By ABE SELIG, JPOST.COM STAFF
Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed on Thursday evening that the settlement construction freeze will be enforced "with nary a falter and will not be scaled back," after clashes erupted between security forces and residents of the western Binyamin community of Talmon earlier in the day, when officials from the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria arrived to monitor compliance of the 10-month freeze on new construction in the West Bank.
Speaking at a Labor party faction meeting, Barak went on to say that "we expect citizens not to harass the security forces and government workers" as they enforce the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction.
According to a Judea and Samaria Police spokesman, some 50 locals - many of them minors - blocked an entrance to the community and attempted to prevent police and inspectors from entering.
"Police and Border Police officers arrived at the scene with inspectors around 11 a.m.," the spokesman said. "When they tried to enter the settlement, the officers encountered resistance and began to force their way in."
"After making their way inside," the spokesman continued, "violence erupted and some of the residents attacked police officers. Others tried to prevent the inspectors from carrying out their work."
Eventually the inspectors were able to enter and complete their work. Six people were arrested - four of them minors. All six were released after things calmed down.
The tires on a police vehicle were slashed, the spokesman said.
Talmon residents said officers used excessive force, and had hit residents with bullhorns. They said they overheard one of the commanders tell his officers to "break their arms and legs," in reference to the demonstrators.
The Judea and Samaria Police spokesman rejected the account of events, telling The Jerusalem Post that "they never happened."
One woman did suffer an asthma attack during the clashes.
Shortly after the inspectors left Talmon, word spread that security personnel and inspectors were on their way to the nearby community of Dolev - prompting dozens of residents there to block off the entrance gate.
By the time the officers arrived at Dolev, residents had placed stones and other debris in front of the gate and locked it shut.
"Our message is that we do not accept the building freeze - we view it as illegal," Dolev spokeswoman Dr. Yael Ereli said, as she stood behind the barricaded front gate. "The inspectors are not welcome here."
"This is a community that was built and supported by the government," she added. "And to suddenly change course and tell us to stop building here is anti-democratic, not to mention a huge blow to our human rights."
Ereli added that Dolev and the surrounding communities had voted overwhelmingly for the Likud Party, which was now betraying them. "During the election campaign, [Binyamin Netanyahu] said that he was going to support and build the settlements. Now the opposite is happening, and it's only because of pressures from abroad," she said.
Moments later, a large force of border policemen and Israel Police officers approached the gate and used a bullhorn to inform residents that they were violating the law and that the entrance would be forced open if they did not do so voluntarily.
The officers, many of them in riot gear, began to cut down a section of wire fence adjacent to the gate and pushed their way inside.
While residents resisted the officers' entry, scuffles like those seen earlier at Talmon were avoided. After police made it through the gate, residents sat or lay on the ground in a showing of civil disobedience, but were moved aside by security personnel, who then entered inside. Residents peppered the officers with insults, yelling, "You should be ashamed of yourselves," and "How could you do this to fellow Jews - during Hanukka, no less?"
While the officers were mostly unmoved, it was nevertheless apparent that the words stung.
Inspectors carried out their work and left along with the security personnel after about two hours.
Judea and Samaria Police said that similar inspections were carried out in Ma'aleh Adumim, Kfar Adumim and Na'aleh on Thursday, but reported no disturbances in those communities.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.
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