The Israeli Army has dismantled two illegal Jewish settlements, established secretly on Arab land overlooking Jerusalem.
The Israeli Army has dismantled two illegal Jewish settlements, established secretly on Arab land overlooking Jerusalem. The settlement attempt was carried out by members of the fanatical Gush Emunim nationalist movement. Seventy-five families -- most of them recent immigrants from the Soviet Union -- set up two settlements on the West Bank of the River Jordan, one at Nebi Samuel and the other at Tel Hadasha.
SYNOPSIS: The settlers clambered up the hilltop of Tel Hadasha early on Wednesday morning (27 December). In semi-darkness and pouring rain, they set up tents, raised the Israeli flag, and proclaimed themselves founders of a new Israeli outpost.
Nationalist groups have been urging the government to resume Jewish settlements in the Jordan West Bank and Gaza, now that the promised freeze period of three months has expired. But, so far, the Israeli authorities have refused to officially approve any new settler activity.
The settlement attempt comes at a time when delicate efforts are being made to revive the Middle East peace negotiations. On the one hand, the Government is anxious to placate nationalist groups, but it is also concerned over the effect that settlement has on foreign opinion-- particularly in the United States.
Wednesday's settlement attempt lasted less than a day. Israeli Army officials appealed to the settlers to quit the sites voluntarily. When they refused, two busloads of soldiers were despatched to bring the settlers back down.
The settlers offered little resistance, but some lay down on the site and had to be carried down the hill. One Gush Emunim official, Yosef Arzieli, refused to obey the order to move. He told reporters: "From here we will defend jerusalem from the North as it is written in the Book of Jeremiah". But he too was carried down the hill. By mid-afternoon, the evacuation was complete, and the settlers were taken to a police station on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.