Israel Demolishes Buildings at Illegal West Bank Outpost

Jerusalem, Dec. 15 – Israeli security forces bulldozed two illegally-constructed buildings in the West Bank outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar Thursday, enforcing the Israeli government policy against illegal construction.

Despite construction approval for limited housing units in existing communities, Israel is maintaining a ban on new settlements in the West Bank and has repeatedly called on Palestinians to discuss this issue in direct peace negotiations.

In Jerusalem Thursday, the Magistrate's Court extended the remand in custody of six Israeli suspects following their arrest in connection with the vandalizing of an unused mosque in the city and for attacking police officers during their arrest.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a series of stringent steps in a crack down on the radicals, a group of whom attacked a small Israeli army base earlier in the week, drawing condemnation from across the Israeli political spectrum. The head of the ‘Yesha’ settlers council, Danny Dayan, went as far as calling on the authorities to “act more forcefully, to make arrests and to put [these] people in jail.”

Netanyahu condemned the recent string of vandalism and the attack on the army post, saying “it is important to me to emphasize that this is a small group that does not represent the public.”

Israel’s mainstream newspapers reacted strongly to the recent incidents. The largest circulation daily Yediot Ahronot commented editorially saying the authorities “must take harsh action against those 'hooligans' that have crossed all existing red lines." The Ma'ariv daily said the law in Israel must be enforced “wisely and equally, against everyone," while Yisrael Hayom called the rioters "an enemy of the people and of the state."

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