Border Patrol deploys around Hebron house in wake of violent clashes in West Bank city
Decision follows escalating violence that left 18 Israelis, 7 Palestinians hurt Tuesday.
A special detachment of Border Patrol officers deployed in Hebron Tuesday, following the escalation of clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank City that left 18 Israelis and seven Palestinians hurt Tuesday.
The officers will focus their patrols on the area around the disputed "House of Contention."
The decision follows statements made by Israel Defense Forces officials in recent days that settler violence has been "almost unprecedented" in it's severity. IDF officials have also called for teachers in West Bank yeshivas and high schools to rein in their students.
A teenage settler suffered a serious head injury on Tuesday after Palestinians dropped a large rock on him during clashes in Hebron.
The clashes took place near the "House of Contention," where settlers have been holed up in defiance of a Supreme Court eviction notice.
In order to stop the continuing reinforcement of settlers, IDF and police forces have blocked Gush Etzion Junction, to keep local residents from reaching Hebron. Israeli central command has stationed IDF border police in Hebron in order to control the violence of the settlers.
Palestinian residents threw rocks and flowerpots at settlers who were attempting to break into a Palestinian home. The teenage settler who suffered the head injury was knocked unconscious. He was later evacuated by a Magen David Adom emergency services ambulance.
Earlier, while the groups were hurling stones at each other, Security forces attempted to disperse them with tear gas and stun grenades.
IDF officials described the severity of the settlers' riots as 'unprecedented.' They said the violent clashes were initiated by the settlers and not by the Palestinians, who only responded by throwing rocks.
Officials criticized the numerous students that were prompted by the heads of their yeshiva seminaries to skip school in order to support the settler's struggle in Hebron.
Among the hundreds of right-wing activists who were rioting, two youths were arrested, according to Israel Radio.
In two villages elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians said groups of settlers burned animal feed and slashed tires.
On Monday, settlers and Palestinians also threw stones in clashes that injured five in the West Bank city where Jews are vowing to halt the evication of settlers who have taken refuge in the disputed home not far from the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
Five Palestinians, including a 12-year-old boy, were injured, Palestinian medics in the flashpoint city said.
At least two Palestinian cars also were set ablaze in what an Israeli security source described as a riot beside the building where the Jewish families facing eviction have been living for a year and a half.
Right-wing activists on Monday stepped-up preparations to resist an operation by security forces aimed at evicting them from the disputed house in Hebron in accordance with a ruling by the High Court of Justice.
The activists flocked to the building, whose ownership is claimed by both Jews and Palestinians and is known alternatively as the Peace House or House of Contention, as rumors spread that the operation was imminent.
In addition, they briefly blocked roads in the West Bank near the settlements of Itzhar and Mitzpe Yeriho as well as the Bar Ilan junction within the 1967 borders of Israel to protest against the anticipated eviction.
The house is located in a key strategic location between the settlement of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs, a holy site for Jews and Muslims. In the past, violence between Palestinians and Jews has erupted over control of the area.
Right-wing activists on Monday asked the public to relay information about security forces movements in the Hebron area to help it determine when the operation was to occur.
Officials refuse to say when eviction will take place
Security force officials refused to say yesterday when the operation would take place, fearing that information would leak to right-wing activists and help them prepare against it, as has been the case in the past.
Still, because the operation will require a large force, some of which will have to be called in from a distance, the operation's planners expect the right-wing activists will have a few hours to prepare.
During recent meetings on the issue, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has advocated a hard line against the occupants of the building in Hebron, showing no indication that it would be postponed. Last week he visited Hebron together with Israel Defense Forces Chief Gabi Ashkenazi for a briefing on the planned operation.
Right-wing activists yesterday called its supporters to prepare to for a 48-hour siege. It also unveiled a synagogue in the building with a torah scroll donated in memory of right-wing journalist Adir Zak. The scroll was previously placed at an outpost in the Hebron Hills. Activists at the Hebron building also said they planned to open a religious seminary that will accommodate 1,000 pupils and their teachers.
The occupants of the house have received the support of many right-wing and religious politicians. MK Nissim Zeev of Shas has moved into the house and his party's spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, has blessed activists barricading themselves.
Meanwhile, security officials said they were worried about the growing number of violent incidents between Palestinians and right-wing activists in Hebron over the past two weeks. Incidents instigated by Jewish youths including stone-throwing, daubing hate graffiti and defacing Muslim cemeteries, causing unrest among local Palestinians. They said that security forces fear the violence may lead to attacks on Israeli targets in the West Bank city.
Yehoshua Greenwald, 17, from Beit Shemesh was only one of many youths who arrived at the disputed building to show support for its occupants. Greenwald studies at a yeshiva seminary in the center of the country and is one of 10 children in his family. He arrived at the house with three other friends.
Yesterday he said that the yeshiva where he studies, which he refuses to name, demanded his parents give their signed approval to let him leave his studies and travel to Hebron in support of activists barricading themselves in the building.
"My father is a torah scribe and my mother is a teacher," he said. "They didn't fuss about it. They know how important it is that I be here for a day or two and study a bit, help people organize and serve dinner to the families here before I go back. Others will then replace me here."
He said that if security forces try to evict the house while he is there he would not resist violently. "But I won't be a chump either," he said. "We'll resist in a fashion that will respect the struggle."
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