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Villagers hold settlers 'captive' near Nablus following clashes

Jan. 7, 2014 4:29 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 9, 2014 8:11 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian villagers from the Nablus town of Qusra on Tuesday held at least 18 settlers captive after they raided their village and tried to uproot olive trees, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that settlers from the illegal outpost of Yesh Kodesh tried to uproot olive trees belonging to Qusra residents.

In the nearby village of Jalud, dozens of settlers attempted to uproot olive trees south of the main entrance. Jalud residents quickly mobilized to stop the attacks, leading to clashes.

Daghlas said that Qusra villagers managed to contain 18 settlers for several hours in an area between Qusra and Jalud.

Palestinian security sources told AFP locals had apprehended the settlers, some of whom were masked, after earlier clashes between the sides near Qusra village.

The governor of Nablus, Jibrin al-Bakri, later confirmed that the settlers had been transferred to Israeli military forces via Palestinian liaison officials.

The Nablus official praised villagers for their resilience in stopping the attack by extremist settlers and called on the PA to support farmers in rural areas.

"During the confrontation mutual rock-hurling took place, injuring some of the Israelis," Israel's army said in a statement.

"Initial inquiry suggests the confrontation erupted following a law enforcement activity which took place earlier today in Esh Kodesh."

Esh Kodesh is a nearby illegal outpost, where military radio said the army had earlier uprooted an olive grove settlers had illegally planted.

A group of settlers then entered Qusra to provoke a clash, the report said.

Settlers routinely attack Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank.

Over 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers between January and mid-October in 2012, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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