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Israel Holding 8 Settlers over Rampage in Village

Eight Jewish settlers remained in police custody Wednesday night — from the two dozen rounded up earlier — on suspicion of a shooting and arson spree in the West Bank Arab village of Kifel Harit on Monday.

A teen-aged girl was shot to death and two other Palestinians were wounded in the rampage.

According to police sources, the suspects include students at the Tomb of Joseph Yeshiva in Nablus, but police would not say how many of them are seminarians.

The eight taken into custody Wednesday were identified as residents of Yitzhar and Ma’aleh Levona, settlements near Nablus.

Police made the arrests at Yitzhar and at Eilon Moreh, another settlement near Nablus, and impounded weapons and a van belonging to the settlers.

Police sources were quoted as saying the settlers did not fire into the air, as some of them claimed, but deliberately aimed at people, which constitutes murder.

Israeli newspapers published accounts Wednesday by Arab villagers who accused the settlers of engaging in organized wanton destruction for more than an hour.

Posing as “hikers,” the settlers entered the village and split into two groups, each of which took up firing positions with automatic weapons, spraying people, livestock and property with bullets.

The intruders were also accused of setting fire to a home, several fields and an orchard.

Two villagers were wounded, one seriously.

The fatality was identified as 16-year-old Ibtissam Buziyye. Villagers said she was shot when she looked through the window of her home.

The villagers showed reporters a dead donkey with three bullets in its head, dozens of bullet-pierced water tanks and hundreds of shattered windows, automobile windshields and bullet-riddled tires.

Two of the yeshiva students, Yehoshua Shapira and Gadi Ben-Zimra, interviewed on Voice of Israel television Tuesday, claimed they were attacked by stone-throwing Arabs and had to shoot in self-defense because their lives were in danger. Villagers denied the claim.

It was not clear whether Shapira and Ben-Zimra were taken into custody. They said they would turn themselves in. But when police arrived at the television studio, the two were gone.

The latest clash between settlers and Palestinians had tempers at the boiling point in the Knesset on Tuesday.

Leftists condemned and right-wingers defended the vigilante action. Security forces were assailed by both sides.

Yossi Sarid of the dovish Citizens Rights Movement spoke of Israel as “Sodom” and charged that Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev were “ministers of Sodom,” presumably because of their tough measures against rioters.

Rehavam Ze’evi, of the right-wing Moledet faction, charged that the army was growing weak, flabby and mendacious while it carried out timid instructions from the government to deal with the intifada.

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