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Settlers plan 'Day of Rage' in West Bank

March 1, 2011 4:20 P.M. (Updated: March 2, 2011 9:58 P.M.)
HAVAT GILAD OUTPOST, West Bank (AFP) -- Angry Israeli settlers said on Tuesday they were planning a 'Day of Rage' later this week over Israeli police action during the demolition of a caravan in a settlement outpost.

Plans were taking shape after police and settlers clashed during an early-morning operation on Monday to remove a caravan, a tent and the framework for a second structure in the northern outpost of Havat Gilad, some five kilometers southwest of Nablus.

It was not immediately clear what form the protest would take, but media reports suggested it would involve sit-ins at major road junctions across the country, as well as attempts to block Palestinian traffic in the West Bank.

And some settlers said it could involve attacks on Palestinians.

"The government must understand that it doesn't pay to destroy our homes and we are going to make them regret what happened here," said Rabbi Meir Goldmintz, who teaches at a seminary on the outpost.

"We are going to pay them a visit on Thursday to do what the [Israeli] government should be doing to them and not to us," he said pointing at nearby Palestinian villages.

The settlers routinely react when police and soldiers demolish structures in settlements or wildcat settlement outposts.

Reactions also include targeting Palestinians in a policy they call "price tag." This entails violence against the local population as a direct response to "anti-settler" activity by the Israeli government.

"Our revenge will be to build twice the number of homes that were destroyed," Ilana Shimon, a resident, told AFP.

At the site, around 20 young people were busy trying to rebuild the tent as Irish music blared in the background.

Some 20 families, mostly young couples, live at the outpost which is a bastion of radicalism that was set up in 2002 after Palestinian gunmen shot dead a settler called Gilad Zar on a nearby road.

This time, they were also particularly upset when police used stun grenades and paint ball guns against them on Monday.

Stun grenades are normally reserved for Palestinian demonstrations, while recalcitrant settlers tend to be handled with tear gas and truncheons.

Five protesters were injured during the Havat Gilad operation, settler sources said on Monday, prompting a furious reaction that hundreds of demonstrators block main roads in Jerusalem with burning tires.

They also carried out a series of "price tag" attacks against Palestinians.

Overnight, a group of settlers firebombed a house in the village of Huwwara near Nablus, and two Palestinian children were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

They also smashed up a shop in the southern city of Hebron, and later a group of settlers were seen lobbing stones at cars on a road near Beit Haggai settlement close to the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian security sources said.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the acts of violence and said those behind them were an extreme minority.

"I think that these disturbances are harmful to the rule of law and even to the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria [West Bank]," he said during a visit to a military base, saying the protesters "don't represent" the broader settler community.

"These are the actions of individuals or small groups, whose behavior is unacceptable," Barak said.

Palestinians in the Nablus area said on Tuesday there was a large number of Israeli forces deployed around several villages to protect them from being attacked by settlers.

Anti-settlement movement Peace Now says there are more than 100 wildcat outposts strewn across the West Bank, all of which have been set up without permission from Israeli authorities.
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