Israeli settlement removal plan sparks anger
The Israeli military is reportedly planning to evacuate 23 unauthorized outposts in West Bank all at once, as anger rises among some Jewish settlers over the removal of settlements.
On Monday, witnesses said around 30 settlers, some on horseback, tore through Nablus in the northern West Bank. Some settlers burned olive trees belonging to Palestinians, stoned Palestinian cars and blocked roads.
Ghassan Daglas, a Nablus municipality official, told The Associated Press that Israeli forces tried to stop the rampaging settlers. Israel's paramilitary border police force said it arrested one settler.
The incident followed the removal by Israeli police of three structures from a couple of unauthorized outposts.
Forcible removal of settlers possible: report
Tension is also building following a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the Israeli military is drafting a plan to forcibly evacuate all remaining 23 outposts at once. No date has been given and government officials have declined to comment on the report.
Israel is required to remove the settlements under the international peace plan known as the "road map."
Some settlers have distributed thousands of flyers calling for a violent response to plans by the Israeli military to clear the settlements.
"In the state of Israel, if you don’t make noise, you don't get anywhere," said settler Itamar Ben Gvir, considered an extreme right-wing activist.
"The present government is going to create a confrontation on the ground here, but the leaders have to understand that the responsibility for the conflagration that will follow is in their hands," said Ben Gvir.
But moderate settler leaders are also worried about the Israeli military plans to forcibly remove the 23 outposts.
"If the government won't expand the existing settlements in the West Bank, in parallel to this action, then I will stand at the head of those opposing the outpost removal," said Tsiki Bar Chai, who represents a settlers group from Hebron.
Israel has pledged to the U.S. to remove the unauthorized settlement outposts but has taken little action against them. Over the past five years, they have removed some, but only one or two at a time. Settlers have generally rebuilt them almost immediately.
The Palestinians oppose all settlement activity on land they claim for a future state, and the U.S., which considers settlements obstacles to peace, is demanding a freeze on all settlement construction in the West Bank.
Israel has rejected the U.S. calls for a settlement freeze, saying existing settlements must be allowed to expand to account for "natural growth" in their populations.
With files from The Associated Press