Policemen arriving in the settlement of Yitzhar to arrest a man who defied an administrative injunction prohibiting him from being in the West Bank were attacked with stones and bottles of paint on Sunday afternoon.
The police said that three policeman were lightly injured by objects that were thrown at them and three people were arrested "on suspicion of disturbing the peace." Damage was caused to police and firefighting vehicles.
The man, Neria Zarug, is an activist in the so-called hilltop youth, as young settlers who espouse extreme, hard-line views are sometimes dubbed. He has been residing on a hilltop near Yitzhar called Kumi Uri and openly defying the injunction for over a month. When security forces arrived at a building in the settlement to arrest him, he locked himself in. According to the right-wing Honenu organization, dozens of residents were trying to prevent his arrest. The organization said that 15 people were injured in clashes with police officers.
In light of Sunday night's violent skirmishes, Israel Border Police decided to bolster their forces in the Yitzhar area.
Last week, five Jewish settlers were arrested on suspicion of attacking police who had put a halt to illegal construction work at the unauthorized outpost of Maoz Esther in the northern West Bank. The suspects clashed with the police, threw stones at them and pushed them, a police source said.
Two days before that there were two other confrontations between security forces and settlers, although no arrests were made. In the first incident, a vehicle carrying Border Police officers was stoned at the entrance to Yitzhar. In the second, masked individuals threw rocks at police and at police vehicles near the settlement of Bat Ayin in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem.
Last month also saw several incidents of settler attacks on security forces in the Yitzhar area. On October 18, settlers blocked a military vehicle and threatened soldiers, leading to one arrest. Two days later, a soldier was lightly wounded by stones thrown by settlers. The following day, settlers again threw stones at security forces. Then, on October 24, a Border Police tent was set on fire near Yitzhar.