Israeli army escorts far-right protest to evacuated West Bank settlement, attacks Palestinians on the way
Israeli forces escorted far-right settlers on a provocative rally to an evacuated illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, according to media reports, attacking Palestinians on the way.
The demonstration saw around 10,000 settlers march to the Homesh settlement amid heightened tensions following Israeli violence against Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz reversed a decision not to provide security for the far-right rally in the occupied territories and negotiated with settler leaders to ensure the extremist march goes ahead.
It comes after violence saw 27 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in recent days.
Far-right members of the Knesset, among them Religious Zionist Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich, are expected to attend the march, according to Haaretz.
Although the settlers did not receive permission from the military to hold the march they have chartered 50 buses to take the thousands of far-right activists to the evacuated Homesh outpost from the illegal settlement of Shavei Shomron, west of Nablus.
Israeli forces attacked counter-protesters in Burqa, northwest of Nablus, on Tuesday afternoon with the Palestinian Red Crescent saying that at least 32 Palestinians were injured in the violence.
Homesh was evacuated by Israeli forces in 2005 but unauthorized settlers continued to operate there, fuelling tensions with local Palestinians.
Nearly 500,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 130 settlements scattered across the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.
While many of which resemble towns and suburbs, with built-up neighbourhoods and shopping malls, more radical settlers have established dozens of additional outposts without Israeli authorisation.
Palestinians are repeatedly attacked and killed by settlers, while their property is also targeted.
Palestinians view the settlements as the main obstacle to the creation of a viable Palestinian state, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the conflict.