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[illegal] Hebron settlers threaten retaliation after Israeli police evict them

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Filed: Timeline
The tensions in Hebron, a mainly Arab city that's holy to both Muslims and Jews, test Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's willingness to expand [illegal] settlement in the West Bank.

Israeli security forces swiftly evicted dozens of Jewish settlers from an illegally occupied building in this volatile West Bank city on Wednesday, ending a week-long standoff that had threatened to spill over into broader violence.

The raid caught the settlers off guard. Only a day earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had moved to block the eviction order. Settler supporters in Netanyahu's hard-line government condemned the surprise raid, a key political ally threatened to quit the coalition and settler leaders vowed retaliation.

"He is expelling us from our property and land," said David Wilder, spokesman for Hebron's tiny, ultranationalist settler community. "We will be back in that building. It belongs to us."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who oversees the military occupation of the West Bank, promised to "continue to act to uphold the law and democracy while safeguarding the state's authority over its citizens."

Authorities were still investigating whether the house was legally purchased as the settlers claim, Barak said.

Barak heads a small, centrist faction in a government coalition that is otherwise dominated by hard-line parties sympathetic to Jewish settlers, who are intent on cementing Israel's control over the West Bank.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, said the settler eviction "shakes the stability of the coalition."

Hebron settlers are among the most militant in the West Bank, territory they believe God promised to Jews.

After Wednesday's raid, one of the most militant settler leaders, Baruch Marzel, warned of retaliatory attacks.

"No one wants more violence," Marzel said, but added that "when the racist government that doesn't let the Jews buy a house in the land of Israel ... I think violence is a reaction to the racist government."

The raid came shortly after Netanyahu announced new moves to try to save unauthorized settler construction in the West Bank from demolition.

The prime minister said he asked the attorney general to find a way to save the unauthorized Ulpana outpost from its Supreme Court-ordered demolition. Five apartment buildings are to be razed by May 1.

Netanyahu said he also plans to supply the necessary approvals to legalize three other enclaves settlers built without government authorization.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0405/Hebron-settlers-threaten-retaliation-after-Israeli-police-evict-them

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