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Watchdog: Israel must dismantle settler outpost

Jan. 9, 2014 1:40 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2014 5:30 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli settlements watchdog Peace Now has urged the government to dismantle an illegal outpost in the West Bank, after violent clashes in the area between settlers and Palestinians.

Israel must "enforce the law and remove Esh Kodesh, an illegal West Bank settlement established in violation of Israeli law", Peace Now said in a letter to the government, a copy of which was sent to AFP late on Wednesday.

Residents of the outpost in the northern West Bank near Nablus had "repeatedly attacked neighboring Palestinians", it said.

On Tuesday, Palestinians beat and detained around a dozen settlers from Esh Kodesh who had entered Qusra village south of Nablus, then released them after negotiating with Israeli soldiers.

Qusra is just a few kilometers north of Esh Kodesh and is the scene of frequent clashes between settlers and Palestinians.

"Esh Kodesh is an outpost that serves as launching ground for severe unlawful activity, and as such... it creates severe friction that causes harm to people and their property, and therefore heavily burdens the security authorities," Peace Now said.

After Tuesday's incident, police placed seven settlers under house arrest until Friday while they investigate why they were in the village in the first place, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Peace Now slammed the government for failing to carry out existing demolition orders on many so-called "wildcat" outposts -- settlements which have not been formally approved and are therefore illegal.

Under international law, all settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal.
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