HEBRON, West Bank (AP) – Dozens of settlers rioted Tuesday in the West Bank town of Hebron, clashing with the Israeli troops who guard them but who may also soon evict them from a disputed building.
In two villages elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians said groups of settlers burned animal feed and slashed tires in what appears to be part of a broader tactic meant to deter Israeli authorities from dismantling unauthorized settlements or attempting to rein settlers in.
Israeli soldiers used stun grenades against the Hebron settlers, most of them teenagers, in clashes near a building which settlers took over early last year.
The ownership is under dispute in a Jerusalem court. But the settlers moved in without government authorization and the Supreme Court has ordered them to leave immediately.
On Monday evening, rumors were circulating that the Israeli military would evict the settlers by force and hundreds of extremists flocked to the site to help resist eviction. No attempt was made to evacuate the building.
The military says rioters broke windows of cars and homes and defaced a Muslim cemetery in the area near the house.
Settlers in several other locations in the West Bank also blocked roads and threw stones at Palestinian cars.
In recent months some West Bank settlers have pioneered a policy they term the “price tag,” in which they attack Palestinians and security forces in response to any attempt to evacuate unauthorized settlements.
Apparently in keeping with that tactic, several dozen settlers burned animal feed in the West Bank village of Kablan at around 3 a.m. Tuesday and slashed the tires of dozens of cars, according to resident Abdallah Snobar. In a neighboring village, Assawiyah, settlers who arrived at around the same time slashed tires and spraypainted the “Death to the Arabs”.
In other developments, Israeli troops killed a member of a Palestinian militant group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, late Monday in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus.
Undercover forces shot and killed Mohammed Abu Daragh as he got into a car driven by a member of the Palestinian security forces, according to the driver, Naim Abdel Salam.
“He tried to get in beside me. Before he could close, the door Israeli forces grabbed the door and fired three or four shots at him,” Abdel Salam said. A black Suzuki jeep pulled up two minutes later and the soldiers took Abu Daragh away, he said.
Palestinian officials said Abu Daragh was part of an amnesty deal for militants from Al Aqsa, who are allied with the Fatah movement headed by moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. They said he should not have been targeted.
The military did not comment on whether Abu Daragh had been part of the amnesty agreement, but said he was involved in violent activity in recent months. The military said soldiers tried to arrest Abu Daragh, but fired at his legs when he tried to flee, and that he later died of his wounds.
The military said that in recent years, Abu Daragh was involved in organizing attacks, smuggling explosives and recruiting militants.