Israel begins evacuating West Bank settler homes
RAMALLAH - Israeli police on Tuesday began removing residents and protesters from nine West Bank settler homes set to be demolished under a Supreme Court ruling.
The homes in the Ofra settlement -- a symbol of Jewish settler defiance to international concerns -- were found to have been built on private Palestinian land and ordered razed by March 5.
On Tuesday police were entering the homes and removing young protesters one at a time, a reporter said.
One youth was arrested for attacking officers, according to a police statement.
Police said they would act with restraint but would not tolerate violence. Eight families had agreed to leave their homes ahead of time, police said.
Leaders of the Ofra community said they were intent on preventing clashes with security forces such as those that took place during the eviction of the nearby Amona outpost three weeks ago, where youths barricaded themselves in the synagogue and wounded Israeli forces with stones and acid.
Amona residents announced they would begin a hunger strike on Wednesday until the government kept its committment to build them a new settlement.
More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967.
Most of the international community sees settlements as a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Israel distinguishes between settlements it has authorised and those built without permission.