Israeli Activists Report Settler Attacks, Military Roadblocks on Way to West Bank Demonstration

Five left-wing activists are reported wounded as some 200 march to Masafer Yatta, a week after Israel's top court greenlights eviction

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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Demonstrators after being taken off the bus in Masafer Yatta area, near Hebron, on Friday.
Demonstrators after being taken off the bus in Masafer Yatta area, near Hebron, on Friday.Credit: Ori Givati
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The Israeli military issued an order on Friday preventing buses from going into the West Bank through a crossing that leads to the Palestinian hamlets of Masafer Yatta, blocking Israeli activists from joining a demonstration against their eviction.

Last week, the High Court of Justice ruled that the state could expel residents of villages in the area so that the military can hold training exercises there, capping a decades-long legal battle.

About 200 left-wing activists, including Meretz lawmaker Mossi Raz, marched from the Meitar crossing toward the demonstration's meeting point in Masafer Yatta.

Some of them reported attacks by settlers, and five were reported wounded. One of them taken to hospital.

IDF spokesperson said that entry to the area was temporarily restricted for concerns of "public disturbances."

An injured activist in clashes between settlers and demonstrators, on Friday.Credit: Guy Batavia

Knesset member Raz said that masked settlers hurled stones at the activists and that one kicked him. He added that police forces used stun grenades and that the military declared the area a restricted zone.

Another activist said that settlers attacked the group while they were trying to remove road blocks. One activist was hit in the face with an iron object.

Four buses of Hadash party activists, including lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman, were blocked on the way to the demonstration. The activists got off the bus and started protesting in place.

The police and military sent reinforcements to the area, in the South Hebron Hills, ahead of the planned demonstration. Activists said that officers checked their cars, and issued a ticket to one activist for 250 shekels (about $73) for defective tires.

A bus driver taking activists to the protest site was told he has to turn around and drive back to Jerusalem, according to activists.

The eight villages slated for eviction were at the center of a prolonged legal dispute that began after Israel expelled residents from there in 1999.

It is home to an estimated 1,000 to 1,800 people.

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