Israeli forces clashed with angry settlers on Thursday during the demolition of a settlement outpost on the Jerusalem-Jericho road, police and settler sources said.
Three policemen were hurt and three settlers arrested at around 2:00 am (0000 GMT) during an operation to remove Yisa Bracha, an outpost of six wooden huts near Mitzpe Yericho settlement, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“Three policemen who had to climb onto the roof of one of the six illegally built wooden structures to get a settler who was refusing to be evacuated were lightly injured when the roof collapsed,” Rosenfeld said.
“There were a number of disturbances, police were attacked and they burned tyres and threw stones,” he said indicating that three settlers, including the one who had climbed onto the roof, were arrested on suspicion of assaulting the police.
But demonstrators at the scene accused police of violence.
“It was very violent,” said Dov Stern, an 18-year-old Jerusalem resident who came to prevent the evacuation.
He said a group of youngsters had tried to block the road with stones to prevent nine busloads of police from reaching the area but were forcibly removed.
“A lot of people were beaten up,” he told an AFP correspondent at the scene, saying he himself had been hit in the head. “The police sprayed tear gas into our faces.”
Police and troops declared the area a closed military zone in order to prevent the residents from returning and immediately rebuilding the structures.
Israeli public radio said six settlers had been injured in the operation which took place some two kilometres (about a mile) north east of Mitzpe Yericho settlement on the road leading from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
Last week, police evacuated another an unauthorised outpost made up of 10 wooden huts in the southern West Bank, just north of the Kiryat Arba settlement but the evacuation was carried out peacefully.
Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish them. They usually consist of little more than a few trailers.
The international community considers all settlements built in the West Bank — including east Jerusalem — to be illegal.