Settlers arrested, injured in violent clash in Gilad Farm

Video: Clashes between settlers, Border Police at West Bank outpost; Security forces fire paintballs during demolition of 3 structures.

settlers maoz esther  (photo credit: )
settlers maoz esther
(photo credit: )
Settlers and right-wing MKs called on Monday for an investigation into the alleged use of rubber bullets during the morning’s demolition of three unauthorized structures at the Gilad Farm outpost in Samaria.
Angry activists rallied outside Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank on Monday night.
The Border Police has denied the charge, saying its officers shot paint balls at the settlers.
If the allegations are correct, Monday morning’s actions would mark the first time that security forces have used rubber bullets against settlers.
Rubber bullets were not used during the evacuation of Gaza in 2005. Nor were they fired during the violent clashes that erupted during the demolition of nine permanent homes at the Amona outpost in 2006.
“We’re calling on the defense and public security ministers to immediately open an investigation into who issued the order to fire rubber bullets at the Gilad Farm residents,” the Land of Israel Knesset lobby said.
Settlers have also filed a request for a police investigation into the matter.
They provided the media with photographs of bullets that had struck the ground and of wounded activists.
Border policemen arrested eight activists during the clashes, and settlers said that 15 people were wounded by the bullets. Settlers said that border police also shot tear gas at them.
Police said that they acted according to the rules of engagement for such incidents and that they shot paint balls and not bullets of any kind.
Although video shots of the incidents show guns with large barrels similar to what could have been used for paint guns, it is impossible to tell from the video exactly what was shot.
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National), who was present during the incident, said it was rubber bullets that came out of the guns. He brought one into the Knesset and said that he had taken it from the scene of the demolition.
His parliamentary assistant, Itamar Ben-Gvir, said that the bullets, which were coated with white plastic, were a new form of ammunition that the IDF was using, and that as a result larger gun barrels were needed.
At Monday’s Likud faction meeting, MKs pressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for answers about Gilad Farm.
There “are different versions of events, and they must be examined,” Netanyahu said.
He added that he had asked for a report on the events, and that thus far, he had heard contradictory accounts.
Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin told parliamentarians that he had spoken with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Beiteinu), who had assured him that only paint guns were used.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin of Likud was not convinced and complained about the excessive use of force.
“I don’t remember police using rubber bullets, not even at Amona,” Elkin said, saying that such usage would be “grave in his eyes.”
Earlier, at a Knesset Interior Committee meeting, National Union chairman Ya’acov Katz said, “We are witnessing wild, out of control and violent behavior by police officers.”
The Border Police said that rocks were thrown at them during the demolitions and that knives and other sharp objects were found in one of the structures.
Gilad Farm residents said that there was no violent resistance and that the knives are found in most homes and were present in these as well.
Yehuda Shimon, a Gilad Farm resident, said that border policemen shot at and hit both his legs, while he was just standing there.
Video shots show police walking down a dirt road with their guns drawn, and in one instance it does appear as if they shoot at a man standing a short distance away.
A soldier in the Kfir Brigade, Shimon Weissman, was among those who lost his home when the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria destroyed the three Gilad Farm structures.
Upon hearing of the demolition, he left his unit and returned to the outpost. Still wearing his uniform, he told reporters he did not intend to return to his unit until he had rebuilt his home.
On Monday night, settlers blocked West Bank roads in 20 places to protest the morning’s events.
Near the entrance to Jerusalem, at least 23 right-wing activists were arrested during demonstrations against the Gilad Farm demolitions that lasted at least three hours.
About 150 activists swarmed the Begin Highway and succeeded in blocking traffic during the end of rush hour.
Police dispersed the protesters and the road was only blocked for a few minutes, police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby told The Jerusalem Post.
The same group moved to various intersections at the entrance to the city and the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in continued efforts to block traffic.