IDF, settlers clash during razing of illegal structure in Yitzhar
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IDF, settlers clash during razing of illegal structure in Yitzhar

3 protesters arrested as house dismantled in West Bank settlement, accused of throwing rocks at troops, blocking roads

Illustrative: Residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar clash with security forces during a demolition of an illegal structure on June 25, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative: Residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar clash with security forces during a demolition of an illegal structure on June 25, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

The IDF on Sunday arrested three people during clashes surrounding the demolition of an illegal structure in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, the army said.

According to an army spokesperson, Yitzhar residents pelted soldiers carrying out the demolition with stones and blocked roads used by IDF troops during the operation.

Settlers also accosted and harassed soldiers, the spokesperson said, adding that those arrested were handed over to police for questioning.

The army said that it was treating Sunday’s incident as “severe.” It follows a number of other recent acts of violence by settlers against Israeli troops in the West Bank.

Yitzhar is seen as a center of so-called hilltop youth extremism, and residents there have a history of confrontations with the army and police.

Following Sunday’s clashes, the settlement’s leadership denied that residents acted violently toward soldiers, and accused the army of seeking to stoke tensions.

“[To our] great sorrow after two years of calm in which excellent relations were built between the settlement and the [regional IDF] Samaria Brigade, there is someone seeking to set the ground alight and produce, at any cost, pictures of a clash between Yitzhar settlers and soldiers,” the settlement’s leaders said in a statement.

The Yitzhar leadership also criticized Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, noting the number of punitive measures taken against residents of the settlement in recent years and their contentious history with the army.

“It appears that Minister Liberman has finished defeating Arab terrorism,” the Yitzhar leadership said sarcastically in a statement.

In a separate incident on Sunday, dozens of uprooted olive trees were discovered outside the nearby Palestinian village of Burin, as well as Hebrew graffiti in the area reading “revenge,” according to the Haaretz daily.

While Israel has previously vowed to crack down on violence against soldiers, left-wing activists and Palestinians perpetrated by settlers, Haaretz reported earlier Sunday that no legal action has been taken against any suspects in some nine videos filmed of violent incidents near Burin since April.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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