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Settlers scuffle with troops as illegal settlement building razed

In first since taking over as defense chief, Liberman has Civil Administration knock down home near Kiryat Arba

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: members of the Hilltop Youth try to rebuild a structure demolished by Israeli troops in the West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, a hilltop site northeast of Ramallah, in May 2009. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
Illustrative: members of the Hilltop Youth try to rebuild a structure demolished by Israeli troops in the West Bank outpost of Maoz Esther, a hilltop site northeast of Ramallah, in May 2009. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

A clash broke out between security forces and local residents in the West Bank settlement of Givat Gal near Hebron on Monday night, when representatives from the Defense Ministry demolished an illegally built structure in the community, officials said.

Representatives from the Civil Administration, a unit within the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator for the Government’s Activities in the Territories’ office (COGAT), determined that a house in the Jewish community had been built without the proper permits, defense officials said.

In a video from the scene, residents can be heard shouting at the soldiers carrying out the demolition order.

A scuffle later broke out, which included rock throwing, though it was not clear who initiated the violence.

According to the right-wing news site HaKol HaYehudi, a number of residents protesting the demolition were injured in the clash, including the head of the local council Malachi Levinger.

Two protesters were also arrested and taken to Jerusalem until they could be brought before a judge, the website reported.

This was the first demolition in a Jewish settlement carried out under Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who entered the position last month.

Liberman, who lives in a West Bank settlement, has been critical of demolitions of this sort in the past.

Last July, the High Court of Justice determined that a group of buildings in the Beit El settlement had been built on Palestinian land and had to be torn down, which sparked a number of small-scale tussles between nationalist protesters and security forces.

Liberman, then a member of the opposition, referred to the decision as “the final seal on the failed conduct of Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and Defense Minister [Moshe Ya’alon].”

Based on the demolition order in Beit El, Liberman determined “Netanyahu and Ya’alon are not suited to lead the country.”

The defense minister’s office declined to comment on Monday night’s demolition.

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