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Palestinian, Israeli officials alarmed by Hebron settlers' attacks

Nov. 20, 2008 8:55 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 20, 2008 8:55 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Palestinian and Israeli officials voiced concern on Thursday after Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians and Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron.

During a rally on Thursday, settlers attacked Palestinian locals while others wounded an Israeli soldier by splashing turpentine on him as he tried to prevent them from throwing stones at Palestinians.

Settler groups have been outraged at a court ruling allowing the Israeli army to remove settlers from a Palestinian-owned house they have illegally occupied in Hebron since 2007. The house belongs to the Rajabi family.

The court gave the settlers until noon on Wednesday to leave, and the Defense Ministry has been attempting to persuade the settlers to leave peacefully. The settlers have vowed to resist the eviction order.

A senior Israeli army commander told the Israeli press that the settlers' violence has become "unbearable," and the army would take action in response to the attacks. Several members of the Israeli Knesset also called for action to reign in the settlers.

Settlers also vandalized a local mosque, spray painting 'Mohammed Pig' on the wall.

According to Hebrew-language press, settlers also smashed army surveillance cameras and damaged a barbed-wire fence around the Kiryat Arba settlement.

Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian Minister of Information and Foreign Affairs, condemned Thursday's attacks, saying that they should be sufficient cause for international intervention.

As for the Rajabi house, which the court ordered evacuated, Al-Maliki said that the Israeli government had been careless, and even protected the settlers by deploying soldiers on the roof and in the area around the house.
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