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Right-wing Israelis, settlers rally in 'day of rage'

March 3, 2011 9:47 A.M. (Updated: March 5, 2011 10:10 A.M.)
TEL AVIV (Ma'an) --Right-wing Israelis and settlers blocked a road to Jerusalem with burning tires and closed down train tracks to the country's airport on Thursday, in what was billed as a "day of rage."

Israeli news organizations said police evacuated protesters from highway 1 after a brief closure of the main artery, with the daily newspaper Haaretz saying that in Jerusalem, tires were set alight in a separate protest action.

A photographer saw around a dozen people being carted off by police near Modi'in, half-way between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, but police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said no one had been formally arrested in connection with the protests.

On Thursday morning, the demonstrators tried to block a main highway and burned tires at the entrance to Jerusalem, but police arrived on the scene to dismantle the impromptu roadblocks, Rosenfeld said.

News website Ynet reported that around 50 right-wing activists gathered on a West Bank road to demonstrate and some of the protesters had slashed the tyres of a police car.

The day of protests came in response to the demolition of a caravan, a tent and another half-built structure at the Havat Gilad outpost near Nablus on Monday. The outpost was built without permission from the Israeli government.

During the incident, settlers say police used excessive force to remove demonstrators, using stun grenades and paint ball guns against them.

Some hardline settlers threatened to carry out "price tag" attacks against Palestinians on Thursday. This involves attacks on the local population as a direct response to "anti-settler" activity by the Israeli government.

But despite the threats, there did not appear to be any signs of widespread action against Palestinians by sundown.

Police had been on high alert all day, including in the West Bank, to prevent violence, Rosenfeld told AFP.

"We have stepped up patrols in different areas in Judaea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Jerusalem and we are prepared to deal with disturbances as they happen," Rosenfeld said.

On Wednesday, the Palestinian Authority issued a call to the international community to intervene and protect civilians from violent settler action.

AFP contributed to this report.
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