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40 settlers rampage through Hebron

Nov. 26, 2008 11:06 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2008 11:06 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - Some 40 Israeli settler teenagers rampaged through the West Bank city of Hebron on Wednesday, slashing car tires and smashing windows.

Israeli sources said the youths slashed the tires of Palestinian cars and Israeli border police jeeps near a settler-occupied building called the "House of Contention."

The settlers hurled rocks at Palestinian houses and sprayed a Star of David on a wall.

Israeli police reportedly launched an investigation into the violence, but none of the rioters has been arrested.

Last week the Israeli High Court ordered settlers to leave the occupied building. Settlers have vowed to resist the evacuation, and the Israeli military has yet to implement the order.

Settlers also rioted near the occupied house last week, wounding a soldier, vandalizing a mosque and desecrating Palestinian graves in the area.

Following Wednesday's riot, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the government is determined to implement the High Court ruling on the disputed building.

Israeli Chief of Command Gadi Shamni said he would meet with settler groups again on Wednesday in hopes of persuading them to leave the "House of Contention" without further violence.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, however, hinted on Tuesday that his government will not force the settlers from the "House of Contention," but will instead settle for preventing settler attacks on their Palestinian neighbors.

Speaking with reporters during his trip to Washington, Olmert said: "I read the High Court of Justice's decision closely. It ordered the house's occupants to vacate within three days, and if they do not, [it said], the government will have to do so. But it did not explicitly order the government to do so. There is something less than completely unequivocal in the wording the court chose."

Separately, the Israeli Jerusalem District Court ruled that settler activist Noam Federman can remain in a settlement near Hebron known Federman Farm, overturning an injunction to evacuate him.

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