British Consulate: Settlers Attack U.K. Diplomats on Hebron Tour

PA security official says one of the settlers kicked the car after trying to open one of its doors.

A small group of settlers attacked a delegation of British diplomats during a visit to the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, the British Consulate said.

The consulate in Jerusalem said the diplomats were attacked while touring the area in an armored car. None were injured.

A Palestinian security official in the city said one of the settlers kicked the car after trying to open one of its doors.

Tension often runs high in Hebron, home to 180,000 Palestinians and around 650 settlers who live in fortified enclaves guarded by Israel Defense Forces troops.

The city is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians as it holds the Tomb of the Patriarchs, believed to be the burial place of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.

Diplomats regularly visit the flashpoint city to assess security conditions and the role of settlers.

The British diplomats were taking part in a tour by a group called "Breaking the Silence."

Tours by the group, led by former Israeli soldiers, are often attacked by some settlers who see them as siding with the Palestinians.

The British consulate said Israel Police forces intervened after the attack and an investigation was under way.

The Israeli government had no immediate comment.

Israel opens West Bank roadblock for trucks

Israel, under international pressure to ease curbs on Palestinian movement, opened a roadblock in the West Bank to commercial traffic on Thursday.

The IDF said the checkpoint between the city of Hebron and a commercial crossing point into Israel would be open for trucks for six hours a day. Private vehicles remain banned.

Residents said the measure reduces travel time between Hebron and the Tarqumiya crossing to less than 20 minutes from about 45.

The United States and Middle East envoy Tony Blair have pressed Israel to remove some of the checkpoints, roadblocks and other obstacles to Palestinian movement in the West Bank.

The relaxation of restrictions at the checkpoint occurred a day after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Jerusalem to pursue U.S.-sponsored peace talks. Washington wants the two sides to reach a deal before President George W. Bush leaves office in January.