Settlers clash with Israeli troops in West Bank

Settlers clash with Israeli troops in West Bank

JERUSALEM - The Associated Press
Settlers clash with Israeli troops in West Bank

In this July 27 2009 file photo, Jewish settlers pile up rocks to build a wall near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Efrat south of Jerusalem. AP Photo

Israeli settlers clashed with troops at an army base in the West Bank early Tuesday and along the territory's border with Jordan, the Israeli military said, in a sign of growing animosity between extremist settlers and soldiers who are supposed to guard them.

About 50 activists entered an army base in the West Bank on Tuesday morning and lit fires, damaged vehicles with paint and nails, and threw stones at the district commander, the military said in a statement. The officer was not hurt.

Troops dispersed the rioters, and police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two people were in custody. The military called on settler leaders and rabbis to condemn the incident, which it said kept the army from "focusing solely on its primary mission — protecting the state of Israel and its residents." The Israeli news site Ynet said the settlers were protesting the planned evacuations of unauthorized settlement outposts. In recent years, some Israeli settlers have taken to vandalizing military or Palestinian property to protest Israeli government policy, a tactic they term "price tag." Elsewhere in the West Bank late Monday, a different group of settlers entered a closed military zone along the West Bank's border with Jordan and took over an abandoned structure near a Christian baptism site on the Jordan River.

Israeli security forces removed them, and police say all 17 people involved in this incident are currently under arrest. Jordanian officials said the Israelis did not cross the border.

Those activists appear to have been protesting the Jordanian government's attempt to halt an Israeli plan to renovate a pedestrian walkway in Jerusalem's Old City. The walkway, which leads up to the holy compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has been declared unsafe by municipal officials in Jerusalem and was closed on Sunday.

The walkway is the only access point for Jews, meaning that Jews cannot currently access the compound, revered as the site of two biblical temples.