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Settlers clash with police

Israeli settlers clashed with police near the Jewish West Bank town of Efrat on the second anniversary of the Gaza disengagement.

Wednesday’s Hebrew date marked two years since Israel began forcibly removing settlers from the Gaza Strip, and the clashes Wednesday involved former residents of the evacuated Gaza settlement of Nitzanit vowing they’d return to their former homes.

Hundreds of right-wing activists and settler youths skirted police roadblocks in an attempt to reach the Eitam hilltop near Efrat to establish a new settlement outpost. Efrat’s municipality claims Eitam is part of the original government-sanctioned plan for the town’s limits and that the land is owned by Jews.

Several demonstrators were arrested in the melee, including Hebron rabbi Moshe Levinger. Israeli security forces also blocked a group of Peace Now activists, who oppose Israeli settlement building, who tried to enter Efrat.

Meanwhile, in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip, thousands of settlers held a ceremony marking the anniversary.

Right-wing activists promised to launch plans for several new settlement outposts in the coming months.

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