Jewish settlers protest home demolitions in West Bank

JERUSALEM Mon Feb 28, 2011 3:43pm EST

Israeli police officers detain an Israeli right-wing demonstrator during a protest in Jerusalem February 28, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli police officers detain an Israeli right-wing demonstrator during a protest in Jerusalem February 28, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli police on Monday arrested at least 20 right-wing demonstrators after they tried to block roads in Jerusalem to protest against demolitions of homes at a West Bank settler outpost earlier in the day.

A police spokesman said officers were deployed at points in the West Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel as the protesters, many of them Jewish settlers, attempted to hold up traffic.

Police were also investigating an incident in which settlers were suspected of throwing a petrol bomb at a house in the Palestinian village of Hawara in the northern West Bank, causing some damage but no injuries.

The flare-up came after police bulldozed two homes at the Jewish West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, a small hilltop settlement where police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said officers had acted after a court ordered the homes be demolished.

Police used plastic-coated paint pellets to quell resistance from settlers at the site. It was a non-lethal crowd control weapon introduced for the first time and television footage showed it caused bruising. Eight settlers were arrested.

Demolitions at some of the dozens of outposts erected by Jews in the West Bank without formal permission from the Israeli authorities are usually carried out by police.

There are over 100 settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where half a million Jews live next to 2.5 million Palestinians.

Palestinians want the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for their future state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Many settlers see the West Bank as a biblical birthright of the Jewish people.

Israel does not accept a World Court ruling that its settlements are illegal under international law, although it considers smaller so-called outposts, built in remote areas mainly by ultra-religious Jews, to be illegal.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by the United States have ground to standstill after the Palestinians refused to return to the negotiating table unless Israel extended a moratorium on its settlement-building on Palestinian land.

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

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