Israeli army breaks up Palestinian march on Jewish settlement

DEIR JAREER, West Bank Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:31am EDT

1 of 3. Palestinian protesters run in front of Israeli troops during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah April 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Torokman

DEIR JAREER, West Bank (Reuters) - Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse about 500 Palestinian villagers marching toward a Jewish settlement outpost in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The procession, the largest of its kind for years, followed charges by Palestinians that the Israeli settlers, whose caravans abut village land, had attacked them twice this week.

Around half a million settlers have moved to the West Bank and East Jerusalem since Israel captured the area, along with the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians want the settlements gone from what they see as their future state.

Men from Deir Jareer, including Christian and Muslim clerics, gathered for Friday prayers on a craggy outcrop between their village and a cluster of half a dozen makeshift settler homes surrounded by Israeli army jeeps and soldiers.

Their march, preceded by a group of stone-throwing youths, was repeatedly pushed back by salvoes of Israeli tear gas. Young boys howled from the effects of the tear gas and old men hitched up their robes to flee, holding onion slices to their noses.

Medics treated several men for gas inhalation and rubber bullet wounds.

A few Palestinian villages hold weekly protests against the Israeli army and settlements, usually involving a score of rock-throwing youngsters, and unrest has mounted this year.

But political gatherings are rare around Deir Jareer, and was sparked after villagers say settlers torched around ten of their cars on Monday night, after planting an Israeli flag on a derelict church on Friday and pelting village youth with stones.

"This was a peaceful area. We're gathered today to say we refuse to be attacked and driven off our own land," said Sami Issa, a resident. "We want their army to pull the settlers out."

The Israeli military has said it is investigating the events leading up to the march. Asked about Friday's incidents, an army spokesman said: "Soldiers responded to a group of some 250 stone-throwing youths with riot dispersal means near Ofra."

Israel cites Biblical and historical claims to the land, but the United Nations considers the settlements illegal and most world powers say they are an obstacle to peace.

Israel has sanctioned the building of 120 settlements, but around 100 unauthorized outposts, considered illegal even under Israeli law, dot the West Bank.

The United States is trying to revive long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress this month that these efforts were urgent because the chance to create a viable Palestinian state was fast receding.

"I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting," Kerry said. "I think we have some period of time, a year to a year and a half to two years or it's over."

(Reporting By Noah Browning)

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Comments (15)
hollowgrey wrote:
Israel like all neighbouring nations peoples get together and talk which has been some time with You and Palestine, all issues started with the occupied land when are both of you going to start talking in the name of the queens peace and get some results to stop all the blood thirst etc.

Apr 26, 2013 12:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
WallaBingBang wrote:
I find it odd that the article says the Israeli village has 6 homes, but the picture on top, with a caption saying it is the Israeli settlement of Ofra, has 40+ structures evident. There is some kind of disconnect there, as the article leads me to believe the settlement is very small. Maybe they protested by a separate cluster of homes? I wish the article made that more clear.

Apr 26, 2013 1:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
drmorocco wrote:
Israel should just grab a couple of settlers and torture them until they tell who is responsible for torching the autos. Grab the arsonists and throw them in jail for a few years. Use the same jails as where the Palestinans are placed. When the law is even handed everybody will behave better.

Apr 26, 2013 1:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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