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24 Apr 2008 16:30
Israeli soldiers on Thursday dispersed about 50 Palestinian and Israeli demonstrators who briefly took control of a wildcat settlement near Ramallah to protest against the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
“The wildcat settlement is a symbol of the collaboration between the [Israeli] army and the settlers,” Jonathan Pollak, an Israeli pacifist, told journalists at the scene.
Early on Thursday the protesters took control for a few hours of the wildcat outpost Yad Yair, empty of settlers as there is no permanent housing. They raised a Palestinian flag in place of an Israeli one.
The outpost has been declared a closed military zone, but Jewish settlers still visit the site to pray at a memorial to one of their own who was killed in an attack.
“If we could take control of it [the settlement] without problems, the army could also do it,” Pollak said.
The Israeli army fired shots into the air to disperse the protesters, while the settlers came back to the outpost.
One Israeli and two Palestinian protesters were arrested, an Agence France-Presse correspondent at the scene reported.
According to Israel’s anti-settlement Peace Now movement, there are about 100 wildcat outposts in the West Bank.
Israel is under pressure from the United States to dismantle the wildcat outposts as the contentious issue of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a major obstacle to reaching a peace accord in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The international community regards all settlements on occupied Palestinian land as illegal, regardless of whether they were built with Israeli government permission.—AFP
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