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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Settlers, Police Skirmish in West Bank

DAGAN HILL, West Bank -- Hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers dragged Jewish settlers away from an encampment on a rocky West Bank hilltop Monday after the settlers ignored orders to evacuate.


Forming a line across the middle of the hill, police surrounded settlers protesting Israel's plans to turn over parts of the West Bank to the Palestinians, and carried them to the bottom of the hill. But as soon as police let go, the settlers climbed back to the top.


After several hours, hot and weary police and soldiers began carrying the settlers down again.


"This should be a sign to the government,'' said settler Marilyn Adler. "If they intend to continue dismantling settlements the people will not stand for it. We will be back until we rightfully claim all the land of Israel."


Police spokesman Boaz Goldberg said 26 settlers were arrested.


It was the largest confrontation to date between Israeli authorities and West Bank settlers over the emerging Israel-PLO accord. The settlers claim that the accord, which will include an Israeli troop withdrawal from areas that are handed over to the Palestinians, will endanger their security and violate their claims to the biblical land of Israel.


Even as the settlers were being pushed off Dagan Hill, others set up tents and flags on nearby Eitan Hill, settler spokesman Aharon Domb said.


The hills, among several ridges between Efrat and the neighboring Palestinian village of El-Khader, are claimed by residents of both areas. El-Khader residents set up a small protest camp and hoisted Palestinian flags on a hill across the valley last week, but troops forced them to leave early Monday morning.


As troops moved in to the Dagan Hill encampment, settlers -- including teenagers and young children -- sat arm-in-arm on the ground, praying and singing Zionist songs. Some chained themselves to water tanks. One man, holding a Torah scroll, handcuffed himself to a metal pole.


Protest leaders, shouting into a megaphone, urged soldiers to defy orders to evacuate them, and urged both sides to abstain from violence.


"These orders contradict all moral and ethical principles," settler Baruch Sterman called to the soldiers.


?An Israeli court issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of Mousa Abu Marzuk, a leader of the militant Islamic group Hamas, clearing the way for a formal request for his extradition from the United States.


The warrant request filed by Israel's Justice Department accused Abu Marzuk of conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to kill and malicious wounding. It said Abu Marzuk ordered the killings of Israeli civilians and soldiers and sent money from the United States used to carry out attacks on Israelis.


Abu Marzuk was arrested in New York last Tuesday. He has a permanent U.S. resident visa, but U.S. officials have filed papers to bar him from the country.


A Hamas activist warned there would be "retaliation and vengeance'' if the Abu Marzuk were extradited.