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Removal of residents from West Bank settlement termed a ‘media stunt’

OFRA, Palestinian Territories: Israeli police began removing residents and protesters on Tuesday from nine West Bank settler homes set to be demolished under a Supreme Court ruling.
The homes in the Ofra settlement — a symbol of Jewish settler defiance to international concerns — were found to have been built on private Palestinian land and ordered razed by March 5.
Police cleared protesters from the houses one at a time over several hours, an AFP reporter said.
They had cleared eight of the nine houses but dozens of predominantly young protesters were crammed into the final home with others on the roof.
Two people were arrested for attacking officers, a police statement said, and eight officers were lightly injured, including by being bitten.
Eight families had agreed to leave their homes ahead of time, police said.
Leaders of the Ofra community said they were intent on preventing major clashes like those during the eviction of the nearby Amona settlement three weeks ago, where youths barricaded themselves in a synagogue and attacked security forces.
Amona residents announced they would begin a hunger strike on Wednesday until the government kept its commitment to build them a new settlement.
The Palestinian Information Ministry denounced what it said was a media stunt.
“Nine houses are destroyed in exchange for thousands of others built,” it said.
Since the Jan. 20 inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has pledged to lead the most pro-Israel administration in history, the Israeli government has rapidly increased its settlement activities.
After Trump took over, Israel announced more than 5,000 new homes in settlements in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The government also backed a bill passed by Parliament earlier this month legalizing dozens of other settlements that even Israel previously considered illegal. The UN said the law crossed a “red line” toward the annexation of the West Bank, but the US chose not to condemn the move.
More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. Most of the international community sees settlements as a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

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