Shin Bet fears settlers may turn to arms

By Ben Lynfield, November 6, 2008

Amid growing tensions with radical settlers, the head of the Shin Bet security service has warned that extremists can be expected to engage in armed attacks against the IDF in the event of peace moves with the Palestinians.

Yuval Diskin did not explicitly say that he expected attempts at political assassination in the event of a push for removal of settlements and outposts in the West Bank.

But an official present at Mr Diskin's cabinet briefing on Sunday said he had warned that the far-right could be expected to use "live weaponry" against security forces and that the climate was more ominous than during the 2005 Gaza disengagement.

"Then the slogan was ‘We have love and it will triumph', but not now," the official quoted Mr Diskin as saying, painting a picture of a "very difficult situation" characterised by "radicalisation and alienation".

During the same meeting, the Infrastructure Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said the current mood reminded him of the atmosphere preceding Yitzhak Rabin's assassination on November 4 1995 by a right-wing extremist. In a radio interview on the anniversary of his death, Mr Rabin's grandaughter, Dalia, said: "Today we are also hearing the same shrill voices, perhaps with different terminology, but it is impossible to ignore their intensity."

Hard-line settler leader Daniella Weiss said she was unaware of any plans for attacks on politicians or security forces and charged that authorities were trying to smear the settler movement. "When they feel they are not succeeding in overcoming us and that we are expanding they start talking about bloodshed," she said. "It's an invention."

Meanwhile, in Hebron, stone-throwing settler youths, some of them masked, clashed with police on Sunday as security forces blocked settlers from re-entering the site of an illegal outpost they have twice destroyed. A police spokesman said a total of four police were wounded and that police had received a complaint that two young settler women had been injured by security forces. Settler youths also damaged a Palestinian home with rocks and bottles, the spokesman said.

Last updated: 10:08am, November 7 2008