West Bank settlers attack US officials

West Bank settlers attack US officials

Jewish settlers have attacked US consular officials during a visit to the West Bank to investigate claims of damage to Palestinian agricultural property, Israeli police said.

The settlers threw rocks at the officials who were forced to return to their vehicle, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

She said accompanying American security personnel did not use their weapons during the incident.

The American Consulate General in Jerusalem had no immediate comment.

Settlers have often spoken against what they call foreign interference in their affairs, but physical attacks against diplomatic personnel are extremely rare.

The US is by far Israel's most important foreign ally, providing the country with US$3bn in annual aid and supporting its position in international forums, despite frequent criticism.

Meanwhile, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli troops outside the Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the settlers threw rocks at the officials who were near the Jewish settlement of Adi Ad to look into Palestinian claims that settlers had uprooted scores of Palestinian olive trees the day before.

He said that after the rock barrage began, accompanying US security personnel ordered the consular officials back to their two vehicles which were also pelted with rocks.

The vehicles then left the area, Mr Rosenfeld said, adding that police had opened an inquiry following the filing of an official complaint.

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