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Illegal Settlers Removed

Israeli soldiers forcibly removed illegal Jewish settlers from an encampment near Sebastia in the Samaria district of the West Bank this evening. The settlers, followers of the Orthodox Gush Emunim movement, originally said they would employ passive resistance and not “lift a hand” against Israeli soldiers.

But as windswept rains began to pound the area at dusk, tempers turned nasty and the troops had to employ force, according to the latest report, All roads leading to the region have been blocked and newsmen have been barred from entering it.

Sebastia was the site of a mass settlement attempt by the Gush Emunim in August, 1974 when troops were called in and scuffles developed, Members of the movement, who contend that the West Bank belongs to Israel by divine right and historical tradition, have made numerous attempts to establish settlements without the required official permission and in defiance of government policy.

Usually they have kept their plans secret but this time Gush Emunim leaders announced at a press conference last week that they planned to resume their illegal settlement attempts. They said it was in response to the anti-Zionist resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly.

The group set out for Sebastia from Tel Aviv this morning and set up a camp. Troops arrived there this afternoon and according to initial reports the evacuation of the would-be settler was proceeding smoothly. Later, however, the settlers split into separate groups and established several camp sites, at which point the military resorted to forcible removal.

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