Soldiers shoot into air during attempted evacuation of illegal outpost
IDF says teenage settlers attacked troops with stones and pepper spray, forcing the soldiers to shoot into the air and use crowd dispersal measures to keep the settlers at bay; settlers claim soldiers attacked them with gas and gunfire; three teens arrested, outpost not evacuated.
A group of settlers who erected an illegal outpost on a hill near the settlement of Itamar attacked soldiers who came to evacuate them with stones and pepper spray on Saturday, according to the IDF and the police.
The settlers, meanwhile, claimed the soldiers were the ones to attack them with gas and gunfire.
Three of the settler youth were arrested, while the outpost was not evacuated.
According to the IDF, the soldiers, under the command of the Samaria Brigade commander, had to use crowd dispersal measures and fire into the air to keep the rioting settlers at bay, feeling the attacking youth posed a risk to them.
"The IDF considers the use of violence against its troops to be very grave and will continue enforcing law and order in cooperation with other security forces," the IDF Spokesman's Office said.
According to the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which represents the settlers, the youth built a structure at the new "Rosh Yosef" outpost about three weeks ago and have been living there since.
After Shabbat began, an IDF force arrived at the outpost with a military power shovel to evacuate the outpost and destroy the structure, but the attempt was unsuccessful.
During the Shabbat, the Samaria Brigade commander returned. "For a reason that remains unclear, the brigade commander tried to arrest one of the teenagers, and a clash broke out between the force and some of those staying at the outpost. During the clashes, the soldiers hurled gas grenades and sprayed the teens with more gas," Honenu claimed.
One of the teens living in the outpost said the troops "fired right over our heads. One of the guys had to duck so he would not be hit by a bullet. While shooting, the soldiers yelled and cursed at us in a disgraceful manner."
The teen said the army tried to evacuate the outpost during the Passover holiday as well. "On Shabbat, Border Police came and broke our things and equipment, took our food and water. We came to settle the land of Israel, and with God's help a community will be built here. The IDF's conduct won't break us," he said.
The teens were questioned by the Samaria District Police. Attorney Yossi Nadav, who represents them, said they "stayed in a place that was apparently declared as a closed military zone at some point. They didn't resist arrest, cooperated, and didn't flee the scene. The shooting (by the soldiers) is very grave. We expect the IDF to investigate this seriously."
This incident joints two others over the weekend in the West Bank. In one, a mosque near Nablus was set aflame, and in another a sheep belonging to a Palestinian shepherd was killed in the Binyamin area. Security forces suspect radical right-wing activists were behind both incidents.