Jewish Settlers Step up anti-Palestinian Attacks in West Bank; Six Intifada Activists Injured in Clashes
Jewish settlers ran riot against Palestinians in the West Bank Friday, blocking traffic, burning crops and beating up journalists, Palestinian witnesses told reporters. Meanwhile, Israeli troops shot and wounded six Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank.
Three Israeli soldiers were injured Friday afternoon by gunfire and a roadside bomb that exploded next to their patrol near the northern Gaza settlement of Dugit, Israel Radio reported, cited by Haaretz.
One of the soldiers was lightly wounded and treated at the site of the attack. The condition of the others soldiers is unknown.
Israeli troops responded with tank and heavy machinegun fire, injuring three Palestinians, said the Israeli paper.
The settlers, furious at the Israeli government's continued restraint after the killing of three settlers since Monday despite a ceasefire, brandished placards calling on the authorities to act.
The urged Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to launch an all-out war against the Palestinians.
A witness told Al Jazeera satellite channel that the Israeli soldiers acted passively “while pretending to curb,” the belligerent settlers.
However, Israeli army radio said troops had arrested two settlers near Ramallah and confiscated their weapons.
The incidents happened near Ramallah, in the northern West Bank, where some 100 armed settlers blocked roads and burned fields, east of Bethlehem, where Palestinian cars were stoned, and in the Hebron area, where two Palestinian journalists were beaten, the witnesses said.
If we cannot drive about in safety, the Palestinians won't be able to drive at all," settler Malhi Levinger told AFP, adding that more roads would be blocked next week.
The radio said earlier Friday that the army had advised settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories to travel in convoys or in armored vehicles on two West Bank roads.
The aim is to reduce the risks of attacks and enable settlers to return fire in case of ambush by Palestinians, it said.
The daily Yediot Aharonot said the military also planned to use pilotless reconnaissance aircraft to spot Palestinians about to commit such attacks, following them up with combat helicopters.
200,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and Gaza on lands confiscated from Palestinians.
SIX PALESTINIANS INJURED IN CLASHES
Meanwhile, Israeli troops shot and wounded six Palestinians during clashes in the West Bank following Friday Muslim prayers, hospital sources told AFP.
Five people were hurt in incidents at the entrance to El-Bireh, near the town of Ramallah, and the sixth person was wounded in Al-Khader, near Bethlehem.
There were also confrontations in Nablus, in the northern West Bank, and in Hebron, in the south, with no casualties.
Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire last week in their nine-month-old conflict, but each side has accused the other of violating the truce since it went into effect on June 13.
Haaretz reported earlier that Palestinian gunmen fired on an Israeli army base near the Gaza Strip settlement of Neve Dekalim on Friday. Two hand grenades were also thrown at an army outpost near the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border. There were no injuries in either incident.
A powerful roadside bomb exploded early Friday morning near an IDF patrol on the Karni–Netzarim road in the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries, Israel Radio reported.
Earlier Friday, a roadside bomb exploded Friday morning near an Israeli army patrol on the Karni–Netzarim road in the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries, Israel Radio reported – Albawaba.com
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