Jericho Hill Taken Over by Jewish Militants

A group of youths from the Mitzpeh Yeriho settlement in the West Bank, mostly affiliated with Kach, yesterday took over a nearby hill overlooking Wadi Qelt, and announced they would stay to prevent Bedouin shepherds from using the site.

Police arrived at the site near Jericho and demanded in vain that the youth evacuate. One of the youths, Amihai Neiman, said the hill was 500 meters away from Mitzpeh Yeriho and was therefore within the settlement's limits. The police left at about 9 P.M., leaving the youths in the outpost, where they had put up two tents and a hut, calling the spot Givat Haherut (Liberty Hill).

Some 100 people yesterday came to the outpost of Beit Hogla, also in the Jericho area, calling on the authorities to permit Jews to enter Jericho. Speakers at the protest event included the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Dov Lior, and former Kach member Baruch Marzel.

Lior lashed out at the road map and Marzel called on the settlers' youth to capture more hills. The protesters marched to Vered Yeriho, near Jericho, where they blew shofars as a reminder of the Biblical Joshua's trumpets around Jericho.

The event was organized by a group calling itself Matziv Gvul Almana, which consists, among others, of former Kach members. In the past two weeks, the group has initiated repeated efforts to recapture illegal outposts evacuated by the army, including Hill 26, near Kiryat Arba, and Ma'ahaz Giborim, between Hebron and Kiryat Arba. The group's leaders include Marzel, and Jewish Underground veteran Shaul Nir, the father-in-law of Nethanel Ozeri who was gunned down on Hill 26.