Palestinian fields in the Har Bracha area were torched on Monday as part of the settlers' "price tag" reprisals against the demolition of illegal structures in the settlement of Yitzhar earlier Monday.
Palestinian fire trucks were deployed to the blazing fields and a heavy cloud of smoke hovered over the region. Meanwhile, two more settlers were arrested after clashing with police officers in Givat Natan near Bracha forest.
Monday afternoon's clashes followed riots that broke after the Civil Administration demolished two caravans and a goat pen built in violation of the construction freeze in the outpost of Givat Ronen near Yitzhar.
Two settlers were arrested and three others were detained for questioning. The settlers claimed that security forces acted brutally using excessive force. After the demolition, the settlers embarked on a "price tag" mission involving protests, the blocking of roads and an attempt to torch an open field.
The Palestinians, meanwhile reported that two Burin village resident were injured – one of them seriously - after dozens of settlers attacked the village, apparently as part of revenge for razing. Four settlers were also injured in the riots, when Palestinians responded by hurling stones. One of the settlers was seriously injured and the rest sustained light wounds.
In Monday morning's clashes the tires of two military vehicles used for activity in the West Bank were also slashed. IDF sources said the soldiers arrived at the scene to separate the parties, and clashes between the soldiers and the settlers quickly escalated, ending in damage to their vehicles.
Palestinians: There is no one to protect us
Military sources condemned the settler's behavior saying, "It serves no purpose". While noting that it was only a handful of problematic settlers, the IDF said they should not direct their fury at the defense forces, which are filling roles they received from the political echelon. "We expect the residents' leaders to condemn this behavior and work to restrain it."
The IDF believes that tension on the front will only grow as a decision on whether or not to extend the construction freeze approaches. Even more severe "price tag" acts are expected to be carried out if the freeze is extended.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians are also leveling accusations at the IDF and say the army's treatment of the settlers was poor. "Two of our residents were injured, one seriously. A house that was under construction was seriously damaged and dozens of dunams of land and olive trees were set on fire," Ali Eid, head of the Burin village council said. "It has become a script that keeps replaying itself, a sight that we are forced to live with."
Eid said that anyone who refuses to leave the village is forced to deal with the settlers' behavior "knowing that there is no one to protect us." He said the soldiers stood by and watched without lifting a finger. "We are talking about areas that are under the military's full security responsibility, but the soldiers did nothing to stop the attack on the Palestinians and our residents."
Hanan Greenberg and Ali Waked contributed to this report
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