Israeli officer fires warning shots at Jewish settlers

Sunday, July 08, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Setting a potentially catastrophic precedent, an Israeli army officer fired a number of warning shots at a group of Jewish settlers who had set up camp on a barren hilltop in Samaria (the West Bank) to hold Sabbath prayers.

The settlers put up a large pavilion just west of the de facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah as a demonstration of their biblical right to the land.

Participants in the prayer gathering told Ynet that a group of soldiers arrived shortly after the pavilion went up, and that the commanding officer ordered them to leave in a very abrasive manner.

One settler said the officer yelled at them to “get out of here or I'll shoot,” before cocking his weapon and firing two warning shots that sent the worshippers fleeing in fear.

Army officials later claimed that one of the settlers tried to grab the officers weapon, forcing him to fire warning shots. The settlers vehemently denied that charge.

One of the greatest fears as Israel forcibly evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005, and then the outpost of Amona in early 2006, was that armed violence would erupt between Israeli soldiers and the Jewish settlers they had been sent to uproot. It was widely held that even the firing of warning shots would set a precedent that could only lead to future tragedy.

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