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A settler attacked an Israel Defense Forces soldier at the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad Thursday afternoon, holding a knife to the soldier's throat and forcibly removing his helmet from his head. The attacker then fled the scene.

The incident occurred during a confrontation between settlers and Israeli soldiers in the area, west of Nablus.

Other settlers at Havat Gilad set Palestinian olive groves on fire, sparking several field fires.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian security officials said that more than 20 settlers had attacked another Palestinian village in the West Bank, Burin, smashing cars and windows and cutting electricity wires.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, however, said settlers never entered the village itself although there were scuffles between Palestinians and Israelis outside Burin on the road to the nearby settlement of Yitzhar.

When police and soldiers intervened to restore order, a settler snatched a soldier's gun and fired in the air before being disarmed and arrested, Rosenfeld and the military said.

No injuries were immediately reported in the violence.

The disturbances began after IDF troops evacuated a group of settlers from a bus parked illegally as a residential structure at the Adei Ad outpost.

According to reports, the settlers made their way to the Yitzhar and Shiloh Junctions, and then to Burin, where they burned tires and hurled stones at Palestinian cars.

Palestinian policemen said dozens of houses and cars were damaged, and that shots were fired in the air when Israel Defense Forces soldiers arrived on the scene.

The closest settlement to Burin is Yitzhar, where a settler was arrested this month for allegedly trying to launch a homemade rocket at Burin.

Yitzhar is a known hotbed of ultranationalist Israelis who believe that the West Bank is part of the biblical land of Israel promised to the Jewish people by God. They oppose any concessions to the Palestinians.

An instructor at the seminary was arrested in 2006 on suspicion of inciting violence against Arabs.

Yitzhar residents have repeatedly fought farmers from the Palestinian villages that surround their hilltop settlement and have clashed with police sent to supervise demolition of unlicensed buildings in the area.

In 2006, the Israel Defense Forces withdrew troops stationed at Yitzhar for its protection, citing repeated settler attacks on soldiers and destruction of military equipment.

Border Policeman, IDF officer wounded in Na'alin

Meanwhile, about 150 Palestinians and Israelis demonstrated on Thursday against the construction of the separation fence in the West Bank village of Na'alin.

The protests turned confrontational when demonstrators began hurling rocks at IDF and Border Police forces, lighly wounding an officer and policeman.

The IDF said forces fired tear gas and rubber-tipped bullets at protesters in response to the disturbances, and said the violence stemmed from a misunderstanding between Israeli and Palestinian security forces.

The protests, which have occurred quite regularly of late, have often ended in violence and light injuries.