Settlers clash with police in Yitzhar

5 policemen, 11 protesters hurt during dismantling of caravan belonging to couple about to be married.

yitzhar 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
yitzhar 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Five police officers and 11 demonstrators were injured in violence between settlers and police in Yitzhar, south of Nablus, on Thursday morning. Some 200 border policemen and other officers had entered the settlement after receiving intelligence of illegal arms stashed in the living quarters around the community's yeshiva, Judea and Samaria police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Danny Poleg said. "We admit that we found nothing. Seven people were held for questioning in connection with the search," Poleg added. After completing their search, the police force demolished an illegally constructed concrete shed, pursuant to a court order. Officers then proceeded to remove a caravan from the settlement, Poleg said, at which point the officers came under attack. "Tear gas was sprayed in the face of one police officer. Four officers have been hospitalized after being attacked and targeted with rocks. One policewoman was struck on the head with a rock - she is in moderate condition at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba," Poleg said, adding that the policewoman was scheduled to undergo a CT scan. The other three officers were expected to be released from hospital in the coming hours. "We have arrested eight Yitzhar residents following the attack," Poleg said. "This was a very violent incident. We came to deal with administrative issues. We came with a big force and were prepared for all scenarios," he said. Relations between police and Yitzhar residents have been strained for a long time - police view the residents as individuals who can easily turn violent, and suspect them of being behind a number of recent assaults on Palestinians in the area. "This incident has caused us to rethink things, in light of the level of resistance we encountered because we wanted to demolish an illegal structure," one police source said. Yigal Amiti, spokesman for Yitzhar, conceded that the concrete structure was legally dismantled by police, but said officers had no authority to go near the caravan, which he said was destroyed by police. "The caravan belonged to a bride and groom who are due to be married in 10 days," Amiti said. "It has been there for over 90 days and is connected to infrastructure, so it cannot be legally demolished. The couple had placed their belongings in the caravan, which were also destroyed." "There was no warning, and no attempt at dialogue," Amiti said. "The police used a great deal of violence, and that's not a new thing. Clubs were swung at heads, men dragged girls on the ground, and Yitzhar's Rabbi David Dudkevitz was roughly treated." Amiti described the settlers' demonstration as "determined, rather than violent." "We don't agree with homes being destroyed in Judea and Samaria. The Defense Ministry allows no expansion or building to take place, and then they destroy structures. So where do they want us to live? I'm not surprised by the determination shown toward police," he said.