Removal of residents from West Bank settlement termed a ‘media stunt’

Israeli youths supporters of settlements argue with Israeli border guards in the settlement of Ofra in the occupied West Bank, during an operation by Israeli police to evict settlers' houses, on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 01 March 2017
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Removal of residents from West Bank settlement termed a ‘media stunt’

OFRA, Palestinian Territories: Israeli police began removing residents and protesters on Tuesday from nine West Bank settler homes set to be demolished under a Supreme Court ruling.
The homes in the Ofra settlement — a symbol of Jewish settler defiance to international concerns — were found to have been built on private Palestinian land and ordered razed by March 5.
Police cleared protesters from the houses one at a time over several hours, an AFP reporter said.
They had cleared eight of the nine houses but dozens of predominantly young protesters were crammed into the final home with others on the roof.
Two people were arrested for attacking officers, a police statement said, and eight officers were lightly injured, including by being bitten.
Eight families had agreed to leave their homes ahead of time, police said.
Leaders of the Ofra community said they were intent on preventing major clashes like those during the eviction of the nearby Amona settlement three weeks ago, where youths barricaded themselves in a synagogue and attacked security forces.
Amona residents announced they would begin a hunger strike on Wednesday until the government kept its commitment to build them a new settlement.
The Palestinian Information Ministry denounced what it said was a media stunt.
“Nine houses are destroyed in exchange for thousands of others built,” it said.
Since the Jan. 20 inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has pledged to lead the most pro-Israel administration in history, the Israeli government has rapidly increased its settlement activities.
After Trump took over, Israel announced more than 5,000 new homes in settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The government also backed a bill passed by Parliament earlier this month legalizing dozens of other settlements that even Israel previously considered illegal. The UN said the law crossed a “red line” toward the annexation of the West Bank, but the US chose not to condemn the move.
More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. Most of the international community sees settlements as a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.


Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

Updated 16 November 2018
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Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

  • Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests
  • Extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near a planned buffer zone

BEIRUT: Extremists on Friday killed nine Syrian regime fighters near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major rebel bastion, a monitor said.
A September deal between government ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey aimed to set up a de-militarised zone around the northwestern region of Idlib to protect it from a regime assault.
But its implementation has been stalled since extremists who hold around 70 percent of the planned buffer area failed to withdraw by mid-October, and sporadic clashes have rocked the area since.
Early Friday, extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near the planned buffer zone, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Nine regime fighters and five assailants were killed” in the attack, causing government forces to respond with artillery fire, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The attackers included the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen group, which has publicly rejected the Russian-Turkish deal, he said.
The lion’s share of Idlib is held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate.
Under the September 17 deal, all fighters in the zone were supposed to withdraw their heavy weapons and militants including HTS and Hurras Al-Deen were supposed to leave.
On Thursday, Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized “sporadic clashes,” as well as “provocations” by HTS in northwestern Syria.
Late last month, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Idlib deal, and criticized Turkey for shortcomings.
He said heavy weapons had not been withdrawn and accused Turkey of not wanting to “respect its obligations.”
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.