Border Police disperse settler protesters with stun grenade

Comes after Samaria violence which left 4 settlers, 2 Palestinians wounded.

Har Bracha 311 (photo credit: Shimshon Sochi/Samaria Citizens’ Committee)
Har Bracha 311
(photo credit: Shimshon Sochi/Samaria Citizens’ Committee)
Following a day of violence in Samaria that left four settlers and two Palestinians wounded, Border Police used a stun grenade Monday evening to disperse protesters who blocked an intersection in the area of Shavei Shomron.
In the past, security forces have used tear gas against Jewish protesters, but never a stun grenade, said Benny Katzover, who heads the Samaria Citizens’ Committee.
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The Samaria violence began in the morning, when civil administration inspectors demolished two structures built illegally in the outpost of Givat Ronen, near the Har Bracha settlement. While the demolitions passed without incident, violence then broke out between settlers and Palestinians, who threw stones at each other. Four settlers and two Palestinians were hurt in the clashes.
In addition, settlers allegedly set a Palestinian field on fire near the village of Hawarrah, south of Nablus. Smoke and flames could be seen into the early afternoon on the hill leading up to Har Bracha.
Palestinian sources said that one of the wounded Palestinians had been admitted to an area hospital in serious condition. One of the settlers was said to have been seriously wounded. All the others hurt in the clashes were reported to have light to moderate wounds.
The IDF closed the main road to Hawarrah out of fear that settlers were planning additional reprisal attacks in the area.
The settlers also punctured the tires of two IDF vehicles, including the jeep belonging to the Nahal Brigade commander responsible for the settlers’ security in the area. Four settlers were arrested.
Shortly afterward, settlers started stoning Palestinians in the nearby village of Burin. IDF troops at the scene dispersed the participants and ended the confrontation.
In recent years, some radical settlers have instituted a policy called “price tag,” under which every army action or Palestinian attack against them is met with a retaliatory attack against Palestinians.
Civil administration head Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai was in touch with his Palestinian counterparts to try to ease tensions and prevent an escalation in the violence.
Both the citizens’ committee and the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip said they had no connection to the violence.
In the evening, the committee organized a protest action of its own, in which activists blocked 13 intersections in the Samaria region from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. to condemn the demolitions.
According to Rabbi Yehoshua Schmidt of Shavei Shomron, some 25 protesters blocked the road at the intersection near his community. They prayed and he gave a small class, before security forces descended on them.
He alleged that the Border Police had given them only 36 seconds to disperse before throwing a stun grenade directly at them.
“People were thrown onto the ground. I thought I had been shot,” Schmidt later told The Jerusalem Post.
A police spokesman for the Judea and Samaria District dismissed settler’s claims that police used excessive force in dispersing the protests, saying that it was a routine claim made by settlers following clashes with law enforcement and that “the officers hardly used force. If anything, force was used against them.”
While Schmidt was shocked by the grenade, he said, it did not deter him or other settlers from continuing to protest any attempts by the IDF to demolish Jewish structures in Judea and Samaria.
He said that the security forces had to understand that should the government want to destroy Jewish homes or communities in Judea and Samaria, as it did during the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, people would not go quietly.
Although he did not advocate violence, he spoke in dramatic terms.
“We will not hug them [the security forces]. This is a war; there will be a fight for every millimeter of land,” he said.
Katzover added that people were angry over the demolitions and worried that the government planned to extend the new-construction moratorium.
“We will not sit quietly,” said Katzover, but added that his committee has focused it efforts on nonviolent resistance.