Three settlers were arrested on Saturday after they threw stones at soldiers and a military vehicle in the northern West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman said. The three were part of a group attempting to establish an illegal outpost near the settlement of Itamar.
The soldiers used tear gas and other means of riot control, and fired in the air to disperse the group. Use of such means against Israeli civilians is fairly rare. The police said the incident is under investigation.
One of the three suspects is a minor; the police are expected to request extending their detention later on Sunday.
The settlers had illegally occupied a structure near Nablus on Friday and were told to evacuate it by order of the IDF Central Command chief. The settlers responded with violence when soldiers arrived, but subsequently left and no arrests were made.
On Saturday the settlers returned and the police and soldiers again arrived to expel them. As on Friday, the settlers threw stones at the soldiers, who responded with tear gas and other means, including firing in the air. When the Shomron Brigade chief, Col. Gilad Amit, arrived to take command of the incident, his vehicle was hit by stones. Amit was not injured.
The army says it is seeing an increased level of violence by settlers both against soldiers and Palestinians. Last week, unidentified persons set fire to the door of a mosque in Nablus and spray-painted graffiti on the building.
On April 4 and 5, several vehicles were vandalized in East Jerusalem and a West Bank village. The cars were graffitied with slogans saying "administrative price tag" and "end the administrative orders." These followed a string of administrative orders banning entry of Israeli settlers into the West Bank.
March 29 marked a first the first time settlers were convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization. The Israeli court found the four guilty of having carried out a number of politically motivated attacks since 2009, including setting fire to Palestinian homes and vehicles and distributing racist material. In 2015, the verdict claims, two of the three Israelis threw gas grenades and sprayed graffiti on a house in the village of Beitillu near Ramallah, where a nine-year-old boy and his parents were sleeping.
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