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Coalition members protest razing of West Bank homes

JERUSALEM, May 6 (JTA) — Right-wing coalition members
threatened to quit the government this week after Israeli security forces demolished what were described as three illegally built homes near the West Bank town of Nablus. After destroying two of the homes Tuesday, the forces dragged about 50 Jewish settlers, half of them children, from the third structure, which they also demolished with a bulldozer. Police said 18 settlers were arrested. Five police officers, three children and one adult settler were injured. Representatives from the settlement of Yizhar said the structures were built two years ago, but Israeli officials said they were set up only several months ago without permits. A spokesman for the Civil Administration in the West Bank said the demolitions took place only after the settlers had lost their appeals. Last week, Israeli security forces took down three mobile homes set up by residents of another West Bank community. Tuesday’s action drew an angry response from some coalition members, who threatened to withdraw support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if it were proven that his government had authorized the demolition of the structures. Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan, of the right-wing Tsomet Party, said that even if the buildings were illegal, the action was unjustified in light of what he described as unhindered illegal construction by Arabs in the West Bank. Knesset member Shaul Yahalom of the National Religious Party said he would have to ponder whether he could support a government that acted in such a manner. “How do you think the whole settlement movement started?” he told Israel Radio, adding that it was through mobile homes “that were placed on top of hills.”