West Bank burns as settlers have day of rage

Gutted: a Palestinian woman in the village of Hawara surveys the damage done to her house after it was firebombed by settlers

Gutted: a Palestinian woman in the village of Hawara surveys the damage done to her house after it was firebombed by settlers

Jewish settlers embarked on a wave of demonstrations and attacks against Palestinian property this week following the demolition of a number of homes built illegally in the West Bank.

Police and IDF forces arrived at the Havat Gilad outpost in Central Samaria in the early hours of Monday morning to demolish three houses.

Dozens of settlers tried to prevent the demolition and some threw rocks at the security men.

In retaliation, the police used anti-riot weapons including tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.

A settler injured in clashes with police this week

A settler injured in clashes with police this week

According to the settlers, around 15 people were wounded in the violent exchanges.

It is extremely rare for rubber bullets to be used against Jewish protesters in Israel, and in retaliation against the demolitions and the use of anti-riot weapons, settlers attacked Palestinian property in a number of places in the West Bank.

Among the targets was a house in the village of Hawara, which was firebombed, and seven cars that were vandalised near Hebron. In addition, the settlers' supporters tried to block a number of main roads in Jerusalem.

In another part of Israel, the police and the Bedouin villagers of El Arakib in the Negev are preparing for a new round of violent clashes. The village has been demolished and rebuilt 16 times over the past eight months, with the latest attempt by police to demolish the homes made two and half weeks ago.

The homes were built on land slated for a new forest planned by JNF-Israel and financed with a donation from the Christian evangelist channel,
God TV.

While the village has become a rallying point for the Israeli left, which supports the Bedouin claim that the forest is being planted on land that has been part of the village for generations, the police claim that they are simply "carrying out a court order and responding to the increasing violence of the protesters".

Meanwhile, police were out in force in Jaffa this week as more than 40 right-wing demonstrators protested against plans to build more affordable housing for the area's Arab population.

The group, holding Israeli flags and chanting "Jaffa is Jewish", were met by left-wing activists out to oppose the protests. Sixteen people were arrested but, apart from a stone thrown at a police officer, violent clashes between the two groups were largely avoided.

The proposal to construct 100 housing units in the city, which borders Tel Aviv, has divided public opinion since it was announced this week.

Last updated: 2:20pm, March 3 2011