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Israel sends troops to quell `Jewish intifada`

Israel sends troops to quell `Jewish intifada`

By Agence France Presse -
Electronic Intifada -
16 January 2006

HEBRON, West Bank-- Israel drafted hundreds of police
reinforcements to the West Bank town of Hebron in a bid to
quell what the press on Monday dubbed the Jewish Intifada,
sparked by plans to evacuate nine families of settlers.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed no tolerance for
hardline Jews resisting eviction from a market in the
flashpoint West Bank town, after two days of clashes
between hundreds of militant settlers and security forces.

Dozens of police were searching houses in the Jewish
quarter, preventing residents from returning to their
homes, and taking up position on rooftops and outside
front doors, an AFP correspondent said.

A furious Noam Arnon, a spokesman for the local Jewish
community, accused police of violating the law for not
first showing a search warrant.

`We expect police to respect the law. There is no search
warrant,` he said.

The unrest is one of the first major challenges facing
Olmert, with Israel`s largest newspaper, Yediot Aharonot,
decrying the `Jewish Intifada in Hebron,` in reference to
the five-year-old Palestinian uprising.

Olmert, elected interim leader of the centrist Kadima
party in place of the stricken Ariel Sharon who is still
in a coma following a massive stroke, said there would be
no forgiveness and tolerance for hardline settlers.

`This incident revolves around a particularly violent
group,` Kadima spokeswoman Maya Jacobs quoted Olmert as
telling party members, saying he had ordered the security
forces to act decisively towards the rioters.

`Whoever raises his hand against the security forces will
not be forgiven,` he said. `There is no justification for
this and it will not be tolerated.`

Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz has reiterated his
determination to remove the nine Jewish families squatting
illegally in a Palestinian fruit and vegetable market in
the city, vowing that the authorities will not be
intimidated by violence.

`Police and army numbers in Hebron have been reinforced
and have been ordered to act firmly,` said a ministry
statement.

The settler families -- around 50 people -- have taken
over some of the stalls and neighbouring buildings of the
closed market.

Hundreds of hardline settlers hurled eggs and stones at
security forces for two days running on Saturday and
Sunday.

`On Sunday I ordered an extra 250 police to deploy to
Hebron. We want to apply the law by arresting those
responsible for the disturbances so they can be put on
trial,` Moshe Karady, Israel`s police chief, told public
radio.

Local police commander Shlomo Ephrati said part of the
area could be declared a closed military zone, adding that
22 `outlaws` were arrested Sunday.

A definite date for the eviction would be determined by a
court, he added.

The defence ministry has ordered an investigation to
assess the cost of the damage incurred by Palestinian
shopkeepers in Hebron during acts of vandalism carried out
by Jewish settlers with a view to compensating them.

`There are several thousand people for whom not only the
law is irrelevant, but the state of Israel is irrelevant,`
said Yediot.

`This is a Jewish intifada. The army realises the moment
of truth is approaching: if the deterioration is not
curbed now... this new reality will only exacerbate and
lead to depths that no one wants to reach,` it added.

Israel shut the market 11 years ago, citing security
concerns. Settlers moved in after Palestinian gunmen
killed a baby girl in 2001, arguing that Jews had the
property before the creation of Israel in 1948.

In 2003, Israel`s Supreme Court backed an appeal by
Palestinian traders and ordered that the settlers be
evicted from the market which should then be reopened --
neither of which has yet happened.

Under a 1997 accord with the Palestinian Authority,
Israeli troops withdrew from 80 percent of the city but
continue to protect the settler enclaves around the Cave
of the Patriarchs, a shrine holy to both Jews and Muslims.
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