Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 17:10 UK

Israeli settlers attack UK envoys

West Bank map

A car carrying visiting UK diplomats has been attacked by Israeli settlers in the West Bank town of Hebron.

The armoured car, also carrying a driver and guide, was briefly attacked and kicked, although no-one was hurt.

Israeli police intervened and, according to the guide, the vehicle had been kept in the area for an hour.

Hebron is a flashpoint in the occupied West Bank, having a substantial settler presence living among a larger Palestinian population.

The British Consulate General is now assisting Israeli police investigators. Hebron is the scene of tensions between Jewish settlers and peace group tours.

A consulate spokesman said three diplomats had been being shown around Hebron by a former Israeli soldier now working for a peace group, Breaking the Silence.

The attack happened in a part of the town considered off-limits to Palestinians.

Increasing tension

A consulate statement said: "The Israeli police intervened and we are assisting them with their investigation of the incident."

The BBC's Wyre Davies says Hebron, in the south of the West Bank, has seen "increasing tension between peace groups and settlers who live in the central, historic part of the town".

"The peace groups say they're trying to show the negative impact of the Israeli occupation on local Palestinian residents," he said.

"For the settlers, Hebron, and its ancient sites, is inherently Jewish and is somewhere they have vowed to remain."

About 500 mostly hardline Israeli settlers live in an enclave in the city of about 150,000 Arabs.

Israel occupied the West Bank along with East Jerusalem during the 1967 war and has since settled more than 400,000 of its citizens there.

The area is also home to about 2.5 million Palestinians.





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