Monday, 23 September 2013

Israel allows settlers to takeover Hebron house following resistance killing of soldiers

The killing of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank last weekend has prompted an angry backlash in Israel and led the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to announce he will allow Jewish settlers to enter a disputed house in the tinderbox Palestinian city of Hebron.

The latest violence, which follows the killing of four Palestinians in recent weeks during Israeli raids, further raised Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a time when the two sides are in the early stages of recently resumed peace negotiations.

On Saturday, the body of an Israeli soldier who had been lured to the West Bank by a Palestinian was found in a well after he had been reported missing by his family. An army statement said that the soldier, Sergeant Tomer Hazan, had worked with the Palestinian in a restaurant in the coastal city of Bat Yam, and had travelled with him by taxi to an Israeli town near the Palestinian's home village.

The Palestinian, identified as Nidal Amar, then persuaded Hazan to accompany him to his village, Beit Amin, and later killed him with the aim of exchanging his body for the release of Amar's brother, jailed since 2003 for carrying out attacks on Israelis, the army said. Arrested at his home, Amar led investigators to Hazan's body, concealed in a well north of the village of Siniria.

Israeli soldiers are regularly warned to be on alert for possible abduction attempts, which Palestinian militants have warned they could carry out to secure the release of prisoners held in Israeli jails. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized and held for five years by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was released two years ago for more than 1,000 prisoners.

Amar was married to an Israeli Arab who lives in the town of Jaljulya, near the border with the West Bank. She told Israel's Channel Two broadcaster that she hoped he would "get what he deserves" and that she was ashamed of his act. Amar's father also denounced the killing.

In Bat Yam, a Tel Aviv suburb, angry protesters demonstrated outside the restaurant where the killer and his victim worked, lighting memorial candles and holding up a sign saying: "Bibi is good for terrorists," referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. The owner of the restaurant was criticised for employing Amar, who the authorities said had worked in Israel without a permit.

On Sunday, another Israeli soldier was killed in Hebron when shots were fired at troops securing the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a hotly contested shrine where both Jews and Muslims pray in strict separation. The shooting followed unrest throughout the city, where there is an increased presence of soldiers and Israeli visitors over the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. more


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