Fri, Oct 03, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Top Israeli general warns of growing threat from settlers

AGENCIES , JERUSALEM

Hundreds of Jewish settlers are engaged in violence against Palestinians and Israeli soldiers who get in their way, Israel’s top general in the occupied West Bank said in remarks published yesterday.

“In the past, only a few dozen individuals took part in such activity but today that number has grown into the hundreds. That’s a very significant change,” Israeli Major-General Gadi Shamni said in an interview with Haaretz newspaper.

“These hundreds are engaged in conspiratorial actions against Palestinians and the security forces. It’s a very grave phenomenon,” he said, accusing settler leaders and rabbis, whom he did not name, of encouraging vigilante violence.

Shamni’s comments echoed the findings of a recent UN report that recorded 222 incidents of settler violence in the West Bank in the first half of this compared with 291 in all of last year.

“The majority of people here act normally. We’re talking about a hard core of a few hundred activists among some 300,000 Jews who live beyond the Green Line,” Shamni said, referring to the frontier between Israel and the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli police say detectives were questioning Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for the eighth time over allegations that he accepted cash from a Jewish-American businessman and claimed false travel expenses before he became premier in 2006.

Olmert denies wrongdoing.

Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said officers arrived at Olmert’s official Jerusalem residence at 10am yesterday and were scheduled to question him for about two hours.

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