Eviction of Israeli settlers descends into violence

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Israeli settlers given 48 hours to evacuate
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Israeli settlers given 48 hours to evacuate
Israeli policemen remove a pro-settlement activist during the second day of an operation by Israeli forces to evict settlers from the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
An injured pro-settlement activist walks with an Israeli policeman after he was removed him a synagogue during the second day of an operation by Israeli forces to evict the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli policemen remove a pro-settlement activist from a synagogue during the second day of an operation by Israeli forces to evict the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli policemen remove a pro-settlement activist from a synagogue during the second day of an operation by Israeli forces to evict the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Elad Ziv prepares food in his home in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, November 22, 2016. Picture taken November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
A rainbow is seen over the Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli teenagers rest in a tent as they prepare for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016 REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Hanna Horowitz, an Israeli resident of the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, draws a picture of the landscape in front of a caravan December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
An Israeli man is seen in a tent as he prepares for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016 REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli youths climb atop water tanks as they make preparations for an expected eviction in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
An Israeli youth sits next to tyres at a bus stop in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli teenagers walk on graffiti reading in Hebrew "Soldier, policeman, refuse orders" as they prepare for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Israeli boys from the Ziv family play outside their home in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, November 22, 2016. Picture taken November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
An Israeli family is seen in the Jewish settlement outpost of Amonain the West Bank, December 9, 2016 REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Israeli men stand next to a structure with Hebrew graffiti reading "over Judea and Samaria, there will be war" in the early morning in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
An Israeli woman prays as she prepares for an expected eviction of the Jewish settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, December 9, 2016 REUTERS/Amir Cohen
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the expected eviction of the Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank, in Jerusalem January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Protesters hold placards during a demonstration against the expected eviction of the Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank, in Jerusalem January 30, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Israeli youths push a water tank as they construct a temporary barrier in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli youths use a tractor as they build wooden structures in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona, in the West Bank November 29, 2016. The sticker on the tractor in Hebrew reads:, "For the second time, Amona will not fall" REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli youths move large garbage bins to create a temporary barrier in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank December 15, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
An Israeli boy from the Ziv family stands in the doorway of his home in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona in the West Bank, November 22, 2016. Picture taken November 22, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli youths barbecue meat in the Jewish settlers' outpost of Amona in the West Bank November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli youths build a wooden structure in the Jewish settler outpost of Amona, in the West Bank November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
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AMONA, West Bank, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Rightist protesters scuffled with Israeli police carrying out a court order to evict settlers from an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday, hours after the government announced more construction in larger settlements.

Around 330 Israeli settlers live in Amona, the largest of scores of outposts built in the West Bank without official authorization. The Supreme Court ruled in November, after a lengthy legal battle, that settlers had to leave Amona because their homes were built on privately-owned Palestinian land.

With no weapons visible, but wearing backpacks, hundreds of police walked past burning tires and pushed back against dozens of nationalist Israeli youths who flocked to Amona in support of the settlers.

Several protesters were detained by police during the scuffles and there were a few instances of stone-throwing. A police spokesmen said at least 10 officers were injured slightly by rocks and caustic liquid thrown at them.

"A Jew doesn't evict a Jew!" the youngsters chanted.

The Amona settlers themselves stayed largely put inside their homes after erecting makeshift barriers in front of their doors and vowing passive resistance to eviction.

"We won't leave our homes on our own. Pull us out, and we'll go," one settler told reporters. "It is a black day for Zionism."

On a nearby hilltop, Issa Zayed, a Palestinian who said he was one of the owners of the land on which Amona was built, watched the scene through binoculars. "With God's help, it will be evacuated and our land will return to us," he said.

NEW SETTLER HOMES

Earlier, Israel announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank, the third such declaration in 11 days since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. Trump, a Republican, has signaled he could be more accommodating toward such projects than his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

An announcement a week ago by Israel that it would build some 2,500 more dwellings in the West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 Middle East war and where Palestinians now seek statehood, drew rebukes from the Palestinians and the European Union. It followed approval a few days before of over 560 new homes in East Jerusalem, also taken by Israel in 1967.

"The decision ... will place obstacles in the path of any effort to start a peace process that will lead to security and peace," said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinians want the West Bank and Gaza Strip for an independent state, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Israeli troops and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In 2006 Amona saw a violent partial eviction, with nine shacks torn down by authorities. Police were confronted by thousands of settlers and more than 200 people were injured.

Most countries consider all Israeli settlements to be illegal. Israel disagrees, citing historical and political links to the land - which the Palestinians also assert - as well as security interests.

The Amona issue had caused tensions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government. But they eased after he got behind a law proposed by the Jewish Home party, a far-right political ally, to retroactively legalize dozens of outposts. This would not apply to Amona because of the existing court decision.

"We have lost the battle over Amona but we are winning the campaign for the Land of Israel," cabinet minister and Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett tweeted after the evacuation began.

The legislation is expected to be passed in parliament next week. It is opposed, however, by Israel's attorney-general and legal experts predict it eventually would be overturned in court.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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