Israeli riot police pull settlers from rooftops in illegal outpost

In anguished scenes reminiscent of last summer's &to=' target=_blank>Gaza withdrawal, Israeli riot police cleared out a neighborhood of this illegal Jewish settlement outpost on Wednesday, dragging hundreds of protesters off of rooftops and flattening empty homes with bulldozers and heavy machinery.

Dozens of people were injured in clashes between the club-wielding security forces and settlers who pelted them with stones, bricks and paint from rooftops barricaded with barbed wire.

The fierce battle was a likely harbinger of what lies ahead if Israel decides to leave other parts of the West Bank. Acting Prime Minister &to=' target=_blank>Ehud Olmert, the front-runner in March 28 Israeli elections, is widely expected to withdraw from more areas of the territory and dismantle additional Jewish settlements if he is elected.

Olmert has said he is ready to make painful territorial concessions as part of a negotiated peace agreement, but has signaled he will act unilaterally if an agreement is not possible.

The likelihood of unilateral action _ including limited withdrawals meant to boost Israeli security _ has grown after the Hamas militant group's victory last week in Palestinian legislative elections.

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