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Israeli Settlers Clash with Soldiers Over Effort to Dismantle Illegal Outpost - 2003-06-19


Hundreds of Israeli settlers have clashed with soldiers sent to dismantle an illegal outpost near the West Bank town of Nablus. The removal of such settlements is one of the steps called for in the new international peace plan know as the "road map."

Several hundred people tried to keep the soldiers out of Mitzpe Yitzhar using cars and stacks of burning tires to block the entrance.

Israel radio said several people were injured and a number arrested as the soldiers and special police began taking down the tents and temporary structures that had been set up there.

Israel removed 10 uninhabited outposts last week. Mitzpe Yitzhar is the first inhabited settlement Israel has tried to remove since the latest international peace plan, known as the road map, was launched earlier this month. More than 100 illegal outposts have been built in Palestinian areas since 1996.

Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and an Israeli man when he detonated a bomb in a grocery store in the small village Sde Trumot, near the northern Israeli town of Beit Shean. Police say they believe the explosive device went off prematurely and that the bomber's target may have been a nearby bus stop.

The latest violence comes as Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas continues to try to get militant groups to agree to stop their attacks on Israeli civilians.

Mr. Abbas held separate talks in Gaza City Wednesday with leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas. More talks are expected Thursday.

The militant group Hamas wants Israel to stop targeting militant leaders and free Palestinian prisoners before it will agree to a cease-fire.

International pressure on both the Palestinians and Israelis to implement the road map is continuing. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected here on Friday for talks with both sides.

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