Barak urges settlers to obey the law

Barak urges settlers to

Defense Minister Ehud Barak insisted Monday that settlers obey the rule of law, as they clashed with security personnel at the entrance to Jerusalem and across Judea and Samaria. In the evening, between 50 to 60 right-wing activists blocked Route 1 at the entry to Jerusalem to protest the government's 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction. Eight of the protesters were arrested and taken in for further questioning after refusing to leave the scene, a police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. According to the spokesman, the crowd of young people arrived at the highway before 6 p.m. and walked onto the road in an effort stop the traffic. Police began dispersing them almost immediately, but the activists tried to block the entrance again, prompting the arrests. In the West Bank, civil administration inspectors, with the help of police and border policemen, pushed their way into 20 settlements across the West Bank. At this point, the inspectors and their security escorts have visited most of the West Bank settlements and are now on their second round of inspections. The inspections are expected to continue daily until further notice. At a Labor faction meeting in the Knesset, Barak said, "The injunction and the government decision must be enforced. It will be done in a way that is in tune with the reality in the field. We will make sure the state imposes its authority on its citizens. "The government made a unilateral decision to guarantee that the door will not be closed to restarting negotiations with the Palestinian Authority," he said. "It was done because we intend to exhaust every avenue to restart the negotiations and initiate an agreement that can end the conflict and create a reality of two states living side by side, ending our occupation of another people. The goal is still far away and must pass through negotiations." But settlers believe that Israel has already done enough to appease the Palestinians. In particular, they believe that the freeze is just the first step toward the eventual evacuation of their communities. The Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip has called on settlers to bar civil administration inspectors from entering their communities and to resist the freeze using all possible non-violent means. On Wednesday night, settlers plan to hold a rally in Paris Square in Jerusalem, near the prime minister's residence. In Samaria on Monday, residents of the Revava settlement did their best to thwart inspectors and security personnel who had arrived at their community for the second time in the past week. According to Reuven Gur-Aryeh, the acting head of the Samaria Regional Council, residents first tried to block the road into the community, and tried again farther in as the police made their way to a girls' high school located at the back end of the settlement. Dozens of female students, he said, came onto the road, surrounded a number of security vehicles and began singing. Gur-Aryeh said he tried to convince police to defuse the situation without using violence, but they ignored him. "They have a right to protest," Gur-Aryeh said he told the police. He said that there was no reason why they needed to be in the area of the school, since there was no construction there. What happened next shocked him, he said. According to Gur-Aryeh, police began to forcibly drag the girls away from the vehicles. Police also beat him into unconsciousness, Gur-Aryeh alleged. He claimed that he had to be evacuated from the scene by ambulance, he said. He has since recovered and is back at work. He charged that the police and civil administration action in the area of the high school was intended to provoke the residents and had little to do with enforcing the new building regulations. He added that undercover detectives were also in the settlement taking photographs. In the Ma'aleh Levona settlement in the Binyamin region, an estimated 150 police and border policemen were on hand to ensure the passage of civil administration inspectors into the community. Settlers tried to block their entry by placing stones, large green trash canisters and barbed wire across the road. Police said protesters began throwing rocks at them when they arrived, a charge that settlers have vehemently denied. Security forces fired a stun grenade at the protesters. No one was hurt by the grenade, police said. Ben Hartman contributed to this report.