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Israeli Settlers Clash With Palestinians in West Bank

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Ten people have been injured in clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.  Stone-throwing violence and fist fights broke out as dozens of Israeli settlers marched on the West Bank village of Burin and attacked Palestinians.  The settlers set a Palestinian field on fire and damaged a new home.  Israeli troops arrived on the scene and restored order.

The incident occurred after the Israeli army destroyed several structures in the settlement of Yitzhar that were built in violation of a freeze on West Bank construction.  Israel imposed the 10-month building moratorium in response to pressure from the United States, which sees the settlements as an obstacle to peace.

The settlers were outraged.  Settlement activist Meir Bretler told Israel Radio that it is totally unacceptable for the army to destroy homes in Judea and Samaria - a reference to the biblical name for the West Bank.

Some militant settlers have adopted what they call a "price tag" policy of attacking Palestinians whenever the Israeli government moves against illegal construction in the settlements.  Palestinians accuse the army of turning a blind eye to these attacks, enabling the settlers to act with impunity.

The Israeli settlers say they will not be deterred by the army or their Palestinian neighbors.  As soon as the soldiers left, they began rebuilding the structures that were destroyed.

Bretler said the demolitions only strengthen the settlers' resolve "to continue to build the Land of Israel."

It may not be long before the settlers get a green light from the government.  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a parliamentary committee that the settlement freeze will not be extended beyond its expiration date in two months.

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