Beit El marchers defy IDF closure

Teen wounded by Palestinian fire when settlers attempt to claim closed road.

idf settlers 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
idf settlers 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
A determined group of right-wing activists broke through a ring of policemen and troops Sunday and marched defiantly on a road running from Beit El westward to Talmon. Security forces have kept the "Wallerstein Road," named for Binyamin Regional Council head Pinhas Wallerstein, closed to Israeli traffic in recent years because of a number of shooting attacks. But on Sunday morning, nearly 1,000 people marched along the 14-km. road. The IDF declared the area a closed military zone and manned the entrance to the road to try to prevent the demonstration planned by Youth for the Land of Israel, a group that set up several illegal outposts in the West Bank late last year.
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The activists, determined to reach the Talmon settlement bloc, clashed with security forces deployed along the road. One soldier was lightly wounded and 10 marchers were arrested after some threw rocks, bottles and light bulbs filled with paint at security forces. Later, after arriving at the Yad Yair outpost, a 17-year-old settler was lightly wounded in the shoulder by Palestinians shooting from the outskirts of Ramallah. The marchers returned fire. The teenager was taken to the hospital. Kedumim Regional Council head Daniella Weiss said the march was designed to demonstrate the settlers' resolve in face of Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to withdraw from most of the West Bank. "This was a gratifying day," Weiss said. "We showed them that we can march where we want and we succeeded." The IDF said it had tried to prevent the clashes by informing the settlers last week that they would not be allowed to hold the march. The settlers said that by closing the road, the IDF was cutting off neighboring settlements from each another.