Security forces clash with settlers in Kedumim

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revava civil administration settlers 248 (photo credit: )
revava civil administration settlers 248
(photo credit: )
Violent scuffles broke out between security personnel and settlers in Kedumim on Sunday, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to reassure settlers and Likud members that the 10-month moratorium on Jewish West Bank construction was indeed temporary. But as Netanyahu spoke calmly at the weekly cabinet meeting, in a show of force some 200 Judea and Samaria Police officers and border policemen, along with 50 security vehicles, pushed their way into the Kedumim settlement in Samaria to enforce the construction freeze. Security personnel have accompanied most civil administration inspectors as they visited settlements across the West Bank over the past eight days to seek out sites where the freeze might be violated. On Sunday the civil administration inspectors were in 15 settlements, including Ma'aleh Adumim, Ariel and Alfei Menashe. Settlers have vowed to non-violently thwart the inspectors and in many communities have shut the gates and or physically blocked the path of police and civil administration personnel. While security personnel in most cases succeeded in entering the settlements and handing out stop-work orders, in Kedumim last week they were turned back three times. On Sunday morning police and border policemen arrived through an adjacent Palestinian village and broke down a back gate to the settlement. Settlers who had waited for them at the main entrance to the town quickly regrouped and blocked their path by sitting across the road. Hananel Durani, who heads the Kedumim Local Council, said that he sat with the protesters and was beaten and dragged away by police. "They treated us as if we were the enemy," said Durani. Settlers took photographs and video clips of security personnel lifting them up and pulling them off the road. They posted a number of them on YouTube. During the close to two hours of scuffles with settlers police arrested two for assaulting members of the security forces. They were taken for questioning by Judea and Samaria police. According to Durani they were later released. Earlier in the day, Netanyahu defended the decision he made late last month to freeze new Jewish construction in the West Bank. He stressed that the move was not easy, neither for the settlement leaders, nor for him. The decision, he said, "has to do with the heart of the homeland of the Jewish people. It has to do with settlers, Israelis who are our brothers; they are part of us and we are part of them." He said the moratorium's intent was to prevent new construction, "but not to halt existing construction." In a reference to the Palestinian Authority, which has so far refused to restart negotiations, Netanyahu reiterated what he said last week, that the decision made clear that there are "those who want peace and those who are currently acting as refusers of peace." Aware of concerns among critics that the moratorium will turn permanent, Netanyahu said the freeze "is for its stated time frame - and not beyond. In the security cabinet decision we made it clear that upon the conclusion of the period of suspension, construction will resume. "In the meantime, 10 days have passed and the time is limited. Therefore, I would like to remove any doubts regarding the temporary and one-time nature of this decision. This is a one-time and temporary decision, not a freeze of unlimited and infinite duration." Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he was glad to hear Netanyahu speak of the freeze as temporary. "The comments are positive and I hope that in the future, they will be proved correct," said Dayan. But in the interim, he said, the settlers plan to oppose the measure as if it is here to stay. On Wednesday they plan a mass rally in Jerusalem. They have held almost daily emergency meetings, including two on Sunday evening, in Karnei Shomron and in the Har Hebron region. In Karnei Shomron, Dayan reiterated that "our goal is to stop Netanyahu's White Paper." At an emergency meeting in Ofra on Saturday night, settlers spoke of the need to continue building and insisted that theirs was a non-violent struggle. But not everyone complied with that mandate. A Palestinian resident of the village of Eina Bus, near Nablus, told police that three settlers had set fire to his property and vehicles early on Sunday. Police confirmed that a fire had been set on the property, causing damage. "We received a complaint from a man who said three settlers set fire to a haystack on his property," a Judea and Samaria Police spokesman said. "He gave police a description of three suspects responsible for the arson, who then fled the scene in a car. As a result of the fire, vehicles were damaged. The fire then spread, and the man said it damaged an outer wall of his home." Police and IDF soldiers gathered evidence at the scene, the spokesman said. "Today, the property owner was called into a police station to expand on his complaint. We have found his complaint to be true," the spokesman added. Police also received sporadic reports of rock throwing at Israeli vehicles by Palestinians during the day. No damage or injuries were reported.