Israeli security forces clashed with settlers on Friday as they evacuated a caravan near the settlement of Yitzhar, which is located in a closed military zone in the West Bank. The skirmishes quickly escalated, with three soldiers lightly injured and at least one civilian taken to hospital in a moderate condition.
Upon their arrival at the Kumi Ori outpost, the army said their troops were confronted by dozens of settlers, who threw stones and ignited tires to block access. As a result, several security vehicles were damaged, including a tractor. Two Border Police officers and one SWAT officer were lightly injured during the clashes.
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Kumi Ori outpost was declared a closed military area two years ago and a checkpoint manned by Border Police was erected at its entrance. Nonetheless, settlers who resided there at the time were allowed to continue living at the outpost.
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Security forces used crowd control measures including tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets. According to the army, one 20-year-old civilian was wounded by a rubber bullet, though locals reported four others were hit by rubber bullets and two children were treated for gas inhalation.
According to an army statement, Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi strongly condemned the violence directed at the soldiers, describing the attacks as “a criminal act.”
The area in which the caravan is located has been defined as a closed military zone for the past two years, and entrance is permitted only to those who lived in the area prior to the original eviction. Security forces used to man a checkpoint in the entrance to the area, but removed it following mounting pressure from settlers.