Radical Jewish settlers clash with police and Palestinians

The realization of the Israeli pullout from the Palestinian territories continue to spark violent protests of settlers. On Wednesday crowd of Jewish young radical nationalists started a fight with soldiers and, after being repulsed, the crowd headed toward the nearby Palestinian area of al-Mawasi, throwing stones, destroying houses, reports Associated Press. Palestinians fought back by throwing rocks at the settlers, and soldiers were firing into the air to separate the sides.

Earlier Wednesday, pullout opponents placed oil and nails on a main highway, bringing traffic to a standstill during morning rush hour. More traffic blockages were planned later in the day.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called on authorities to use an "iron fist" against radical Jewish groups, as they threaten "to divide the country." However the Israeli authorities fear that a small number of extremists could turn more violent in the near future. Sharon also said hard-line rabbis who urge their followers to resist the evacuation should be punished. Simultaneously he has warned the Palestinians against attacking soldiers or settlers during the withdrawal, promising harsh retaliation.

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