Settler violence follows Hebron evacuation


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Settlers rampaged through Hebron following the evacuation of a disputed building.

Jewish youth entered the Palestinian areas of Hebron Thursday afternoon, setting set fires to cars, homes and trees, and throwing stones, according to reports.

The Israel Defense Forces declared all of Hebron a closed military area late Thursday afternoon in a bid to prevent other violent protesters from entering the area. Police used tear gas and stun guns to subdue the rioters, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.

Television images showed a settler firing a rifle at Palestinians. Channel 2 reported exchanges of gunfire between Palestinians and settlers. Earlier Thursday, two Palestinians were injured when a Kiryat Arba man shot into a Palestinian crowd.

Settler youth in other areas of the West Bank also were rioting and throwing stones at Palestinian cars, Ynet reported.

The rioting has been called a "price tag policy" by the radical settler leadership, a "payment" for Thursday’s evacuation by Israel security forces of the Peace House in Hebron, a four-story building located between the Jewish community of Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs. Both the Jewish community of Hebron and a Palestinian landowner claim ownership.

A Jerusalem District Court has been charged with settling the question of ownership of the property, where up to 20 Jewish families have lived for the past year.  The house was evacuated after Israel’s High Court of Justice upheld a government order to evacuate the house pending determination of ownership.

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