Settlers, Troops Clash at Outpost

Settlers and security forces clashed yesterday afternoon at the northern West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.

The clashes broke out following an attempt by security forces to confiscate a truck which was supposedly used to illegally transport a mobile home to the site.

Dozens of right-wing activists who came to the site to try to prevent the truck from being moved, punctured the tires of military vehicles, hurled stones and set fire to a nearby Palestinian-owned olive orchard.

One man was injured and four were arrested.

Shortly before the incident, GOC Central Command Gadi Shamni said, "The Israel Defense Forces is ready for any development, both terror and an outbreak of violence, if one occurs. It will be easy to deal with these challenges together."

Havat Gilad has been the scene of violent outbreaks in the past. Last March five residents of the outpost were briefly arrested on suspicion of throwing stones at police. Security forces have attempted to evacuate the site, but settlers have returned and resettled it.

Yesterday's incident began when representatives of the Civil Administration spotted a truck with mobile home components on it. Transport of mobile homes in West Bank settlements is prohibited, and particularly to Havat Gilad, which is one of 23 illegal outposts intended to be evacuated. The representatives sought to confiscate the truck. The truck's owner, Itai Zer, the leader of the group at Havat Gilad, said he needed it for his work in a nearby community and presented permits.

Meanwhile, young people from all over the West Bank who had heard about the incident began to stream to the site.

Zer eventually convinced the authorities that the mobile home was not related to illegal construction, and the young people went home.