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When the settlers go marching in

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IDF soldiers on West BankIf there are violent confrontations later this month, as the Palestine Liberation Organisation requests full membership at the United Nations, they might well happen at a place like this, Israeli security analysts say.

The Israeli army checkpoint here, notorious for the abuses committed by soldiers during the second intifada, sits about seven kilometres south of the Palestinian city of Nablus.

About 50 protesters marched to the checkpoint on Tuesday night from Itamar, an illegal West Bank settlement of 1,000 people just to the east. The demonstration dispersed after 15 minutes, though, and none of the protesters tried to walk towards Nablus, an area which is off-limits to them. The Israeli army closed the road to Palestinian traffic during the protest.

“We are here!” one man yelled, waving an Israeli flag. “This is our land.”

The Itamar march, like a small Palestinian protest at Qalandiya checkpoint on Saturday, was small and uneventful. It began at the house of the Fogel family, five of whom were murdered in their home in March; a Palestinian from the nearby village of Awarta pleaded guilty to the murders last month.

Two other peaceful demonstrations took place on Tuesday, one at Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, the other at Beit El, near Ramallah.

But a few kilometres away from Itamar, Israeli settlers from Yitzhar marched to the village of Asira al-Qibiliya, where they threw stones at Palestinians; some of the settlers were armed, and fired their weapons. A local Palestinian journalist was among those attacked.


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