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Israeli police, settlers clash in evacuation of illegal outpost

Settlers had set up two caravans at the Amona outpost last month, in what they described as a protest against a recent surge in Palestinian attacks in the West Bank.

Members of the Israeli security forces remove a caravan that settlers had brought to the former outpost of Amona near the Jewish settlement of Ofra, following clashes as dozens of settlers were evicted early on 3 January 2019 from the former outpost in the occupied West Bank. Picture: AFP

AMONA - Israeli paramilitary police dragged dozens of Jewish settlers out of an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank on Thursday and said more than 20 officers were hurt during violent resistance to the evacuation.

Settlers had set up two caravans at the Amona outpost last month, in what they described as a protest against a recent surge in Palestinian attacks in the West Bank.

Two years ago, Amona’s 300 settlers were removed by police after the Supreme Court ruled it had been built illegally and without Israeli government authorisation on privately-owned Palestinian land in 1995.

Police said that in Thursday’s operation, which lasted several hours, at least 23 officers were injured by stones thrown by the settlers, many of them teenagers, or in scuffles, and were taken to hospital for treatment.

Israeli media reports said at least three settlers were also hurt. At least seven people were arrested for attacking officers, police said.

The evacuation was carried out after the Jerusalem District Court on Wednesday denied the settlers’ petition against eviction.

Most countries consider all Israeli settlements on land occupied in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal. Israel disputes this, and last week Israeli authorities issued approvals for more than 2,000 settler homes in the West Bank.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which was also captured by Israel in the 1967 conflict. The two areas are home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

While Israel’s settlement projects have regularly drawn condemnation from the Palestinians and in Europe, the U.S administration under President Donald Trump has taken a largely uncritical public stand.

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