ISRAEL—On Tuesday, January 1 a riot broke out in a Palestinian village located North in the West Bank when an undercover Israeli force infiltrated the village with the purpose of arresting Murad Bani Odesh—a wanted militant.
According to both Palestinian news sources and the Israeli military, Mr. Odesh is affiliated with an extremist organization known as Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli force entered the village disguised as vegetable merchants when Palestinian youths began to throw stones at the disguised Israeli force.
As the incident began to escalate, regular forces were called onto the scene and responded with the use of rubber coated bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd. Two Israeli soldiers suffered minor wounds and 30 Palestinians were injured.
There as been a major increase in this type of incident involving stone throwing and firebombing vehicles along West Bank roads since end of Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense –the name given to military operations against Hamas in Gaza—this past November. South of the West Bank City of Hebron, a bus carrying Israeli civilians was shot at, according to the Israeli military. There were no reported casualties.
Jewish settlers surrounded by Israeli border police sit in a field in disputed land. (@Official_Habib/Twitter)
On Wednesday, January 2 clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli settlers near the outpost Esh Kodesh. Israeli border patrol agents accompanied Palestinians to the area in order to plough a tract of land they own near the outpost.
Army officials had notified residents of Esh Kodesh Monday evening that that the Palestinians would be plowing the tract of land. In response to the news, a group of women and children from the outpost decided to hold a picnic in the field.
According to Israeli settlers in the region, the land belongs to residents of Esh Kodesh, an Israeli settlement, stating that they had been cultivating the area for nearly 10 years and that the region is still in a legal a dispute despite a recent High Court of Justice ruling that mandates the Palestinians to be allowed to plow near the outpost.
One Israeli resident of Esh Kodesh alleged that the Israeli military violently evicted residents from the field using tear gas and stun grenades.
According to Israeli border police, its forces were responding to a stone throwing incident involving the Palestinians and settlers and had used standard riot dispersal techniques, denying that its officers had attacked women and children.
Officials are also investigating an incident that occurred during the night where settlers allegedly vandalized over 100 olive trees belonging to the Palestinian
Kursa . They further alleged that the settlers entered the village destroying windows and damaging a tractor.
The Israeli military indicates it is trying to find a mid-point between utilizing proactive counterterrorism measures – such as detaining of militants belonging to armed groups like Hamas – while maintaining a policy of restraint when faced with rioters.
Israel, Shimon Peres has stated that
Israel, “Must complete the task of reaching a peace agreement with Palestinians without further delay,” during a television broadcast.