Settlers clash with police near Esh Kodesh

Clashes break out for second day as Palestinians attempt to tend to lands under IDF protection near West Bank outpost.

Esh Kodesh clashes 370 (photo credit: Tazpit News Agency)
Esh Kodesh clashes 370
(photo credit: Tazpit News Agency)
Two Border Police officers were lightly injured and four Israelis were arrested during clashes that occurred Tuesday outside the West Bank Esh Kodesh outpost, near the Shiloh settlement.
The incident was sparked by a land dispute between Esh Kodesh residents and Palestinians from the nearby village of Kusra.
According to security sources, a recent High Court of Justice ruling mandated that the Palestinians be allowed to plough a tract of land near the outpost. Aron Katsof, a resident of Esh Kodesh, said outpost inhabitants have cultivated that field for 10 years and that the issue is still in the midst of a legal dispute.
The army, he said, notified them at 10 p.m. on Monday that Palestinians would arrive to work the land the next morning, said Katsof.
In reaction to the news, women and children from the outpost went to the field and held a picnic, said Katsof, who was at the scene during the incident. He alleged that Border Police violently evicted Esh Kodesh residents from the field, including shooting tear gas and stun grenades at the women and children.
Katsof added that the IDF tried to stop the Border Police from targeting the women and children.
The Border Police said it had responded to a stone-throwing incident involving Palestinians and settlers near Esh Kodesh and had used riot dispersal means, denying that its officers had attacked women and children.
Katsof provided The Jerusalem Post with video clips that showed women and children in the field. In some of the footage, Border Police officers could be seen hitting male settlers with a baton as they stood there.
Katsof said that Palestinians stood on a hill above the scene, threw stones and at times sang nationalistic songs in Arabic about attacking Tel Aviv.
He warned that the IDF and Border Police actions against the Esh Kodesh residents only emboldened Palestinian hostility toward the outpost and its residents lives.
Security sources in turn said they were investigating an incident that occurred in the middle of the night in which settlers vandalized about 100 trees belonging to the Kusra village. It further alleged that the settlers entered the village and destroyed windows and vandalized a tractor.
The Yesh Din NGO similarly told the Post that settlers had attacked the village, including entering a home. It added that it counted 220 vandalized olive trees.
Katsof denied the report, noting that the IDF and Border Police were already watching the outpost overnight, and that it would have been impossible for its residents to have engaged in such activity.