Israeli settlers vandalized an army base, threw stones at an officer and entered a closed military zone on the Jordanian border, acts that Defense Minister Ehud Barak said “have the characteristics of homegrown terror.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the incidents and said he has “‘consulted with our top security and criminal justice officials, and have requested they present me with a plan to deal with this phenomenon.” His statement was carried in a text message sent from his office.
The activists were spurred on by reports that Israel is planning to evacuate several unauthorized settler outposts in the West Bank in the near future, the Haaretz daily reported. Some settler activists have warned of possible retaliation whenever the government takes action against unauthorized settlements.
Netanyahu refused last year to renew a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank, leading to the collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians. Palestinian leaders have said that Israel must stop all construction for negotiations to resume.
About 50 settlement activists broke through the perimeter fence of an Israeli army base in the West Bank, threw stones at a brigade commander and his deputy, and vandalized military vehicles and property, the Defense Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.
In a separate incident last night, 17 activists entered a closed military zone on the border with Jordan and occupied an abandoned structure in the area until they were forcibly ejected by Israeli authorities.
Barak said the incidents “have the characteristics of homegrown terror and will not be tolerated,” according to a statement from the ministry.
More than 300,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and another 200,000 reside in parts of Jerusalem that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians claim for a future independent state.