(photo credit: Sarah Levin)
Five police officers were lightly injured and four people were arrested in the Druse village of Usfiya following a day of violent clashes over construction work to lay a natural gas pipeline in the village.
Demonstrators said land-owners were not receiving proper compensation in exchange for allowing the pipeline to run through their fields, and that construction work on the pipeline had begun before the landowners formally accepted the government’s compensation proposals.
But the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement on Tuesday saying that compensation offers made to the landowners had been “far-reaching,” adding that “in recent days, unfortunately, some of the landowners have backtracked and have taken up more extreme positions regarding the compensation they seek.”
Police said some 50 residents attempted to disrupt work as a tractor
lay the pipeline on Tuesday morning, adding that the protest was
organized by the Druse Association for Land Protection. Police accused
the association of going back on a pledge to hold a peaceful
protest. After being denied access to the construction zone, protesters
headed to Route 70 and disrupted traffic. Police sealed off the road
and cleared the protesters, resulting in clashes. One officer suffered
a broken nose during the clearance, and two others were lightly injured.
The disturbances resumed a few hours later, when protesters returned to
the road and pelted police with stones. Heavy reinforcements were
deployed in the area to confront the rioters. They were met with
“massive amounts of stones” thrown at them by rioters, according to
police. Three officers were injured by the stones. Five protesters in
total were arrested for attacking police and disrupting traffic.
After using force to evacuate some of the villagers, police turned to
negotiations in an effort to convince the remainder to evacuate the