You are viewing the content for Thursday 2 February 2006

Israeli soldiers clash with settlers

By Josef Federman, Amona
CLUB-WIELDING riot troops dragged away thousands of stone-throwing Jewish settlers from rooftops and behind barbed wire yesterday, evacuating an illegal West Bank outpost in the fiercest clash over settlements since Israel’s Gaza pull-out.

The demolition of nine houses at Amona, a hilltop enclave in the heart of the West Bank, was seen as a test for acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has said he would act with determination against settlers violating the law.

Mr Olmert is widely expected to withdraw from more areas of the West Bank and dismantle additional Jewish settlements, whether unilaterally or in a deal with the Palestinians, if elected prime minister in March elections.

Medics said they had treated 162 people wounded in the clashes. Police said 58 officers had been hurt.

Settlers threw rocks, eggs and paint-filled balloons at helmeted riot police, who approached barricaded rooftops in the shovels of bulldozers. From behind barbed wire ringing the roofs, protesters also used sticks to beat back troops climbing ladders.

The confrontation at Amona, one of dozens of illegal outposts established since the 1990s, began yesterday morning, after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal by the settlers. The court ordered nine houses in Amona, built on private Palestinian land, to be demolished.

The Israeli government, meanwhile, said it froze this month’s transfer of $45 million (e37m) in tax rebates and customs payments to the Palestinian Authority while it reviews its options following the Hamas victory in January 25 elections.

Palestinian officials warned that without the money they won’t be able to pay the salaries of 137,000 government employees.

Palestinian Economics Minister Mazen Sinokrot said Israel had "no right" to freeze the tax funds but said negotiations with Israel over the issues were continuing.

Also yesterday, Egyptian officials said their country would send a strong message to Hamas to recognise Israel, disarm and honour past peace deals - the latest sign of Arab governments pushing the militant group to moderate its stance after its surprise election victory.

"Nobody will talk to them before they stop violence, recognise Israel and accept [peace] agreements, including the road map," the chief of Egypt’s intelligence, Omar Suleiman, told journalists in Cairo.

In the Gaza Strip, an explosion blew out the walls in the home of Suleiman Abu Mutlak, a former Palestinian security official, but caused no injuries.

Mr Abu Mutlak blamed Hamas for the blast, the first attack on a leading figure in the defeated Fatah Party since Hamas’s victory. Hamas denied involvement.

 

Israeli soldiers clash with settlers

By Josef Federman, Amona
CLUB-WIELDING riot troops dragged away thousands of stone-throwing Jewish settlers from rooftops and behind barbed wire yesterday, evacuating an illegal West Bank outpost in the fiercest clash over settlements since Israel’s Gaza pull-out.

The demolition of nine houses at Amona, a hilltop enclave in the heart of the West Bank, was seen as a test for acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has said he would act with determination against settlers violating the law.

Mr Olmert is widely expected to withdraw from more areas of the West Bank and dismantle additional Jewish settlements, whether unilaterally or in a deal with the Palestinians, if elected prime minister in March elections.

Medics said they had treated 162 people wounded in the clashes. Police said 58 officers had been hurt.

Settlers threw rocks, eggs and paint-filled balloons at helmeted riot police, who approached barricaded rooftops in the shovels of bulldozers. From behind barbed wire ringing the roofs, protesters also used sticks to beat back troops climbing ladders.

The confrontation at Amona, one of dozens of illegal outposts established since the 1990s, began yesterday morning, after Israel’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal by the settlers. The court ordered nine houses in Amona, built on private Palestinian land, to be demolished.

The Israeli government, meanwhile, said it froze this month’s transfer of $45 million (e37m) in tax rebates and customs payments to the Palestinian Authority while it reviews its options following the Hamas victory in January 25 elections.

Palestinian officials warned that without the money they won’t be able to pay the salaries of 137,000 government employees.

Palestinian Economics Minister Mazen Sinokrot said Israel had "no right" to freeze the tax funds but said negotiations with Israel over the issues were continuing.

Also yesterday, Egyptian officials said their country would send a strong message to Hamas to recognise Israel, disarm and honour past peace deals - the latest sign of Arab governments pushing the militant group to moderate its stance after its surprise election victory.

"Nobody will talk to them before they stop violence, recognise Israel and accept [peace] agreements, including the road map," the chief of Egypt’s intelligence, Omar Suleiman, told journalists in Cairo.

In the Gaza Strip, an explosion blew out the walls in the home of Suleiman Abu Mutlak, a former Palestinian security official, but caused no injuries.

Mr Abu Mutlak blamed Hamas for the blast, the first attack on a leading figure in the defeated Fatah Party since Hamas’s victory. Hamas denied involvement.