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Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 13:44 UK

Israeli military dubs settler clash 'intolerable'

Burned car in Hawara village, 14.04.2010
Cars were burned and a mosque vandalised in the area last week

Israel's military has dubbed as "intolerable" what it described as a "riot" by settlers in the West Bank.

The military said about 100 settlers threw rocks and attacked soldiers as they tried to stop the settlers entering a Palestinian village.

One soldier was injured in the face by a thrown bottle.

Residents of the settlement of Yitzhar were quoted by Israeli media as saying the soldiers harrassed them as they tried to visit the area.

Israeli citizens from the area of Yitzhar tried to enter the nearby village of Madma in the northern West Bank on Tuesday evening, the military said in a statement.

Soldiers tried to set up a military zone, but more settlers arrived and pelted them with rocks, it said.

"Violence and raising hands up against IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] soldiers is crossing the line in an intolerable manner," the statement said.

The incident occurred on Israel's independence day, which the military said made it "all the more serious".

Settlers quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said the military had been trying to prevent them from hiking in the area all day, and that a soldier had fired in the air during the confrontation - a charge the military denied.

'Spate of attacks'

Last week a mosque was vandalised with Hebrew grafitti, cars were burned and olive trees uprooted in the village of Hawarra, also near Yitzhar settlement.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat condemned what he described as a recent spate of attacks on Palestinian property by settlers.

He said Israeli state policy had given rise to "a culture of violence, hatred and extremism in which Israeli settlers, often accompanied by Israeli soldiers, run riot across the West Bank".

Israeli rights groups say the military often does not do enough to prevent attacks on Palestinians and their property.

Some hard-line settlers advocate a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure they see as threatening Jewish settlements.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to limit building in the settlements for 10-months to help restart peace talks with the Palestinians has angered many in the settler movement.

Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements.

There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.



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