Village organizes guards to protect against settlers

17:00 Sep 13 2011 Qusra, southeast of Nablus

Palestinian village where mosque was torched forms group to patrol the town at night in search of settlers

Elior Levy
Published: 09.13.11, 17:15 / Israel News

In the wake of a wave of "price tag" acts that have been targeting Palestinian villages over the past two weeks, a local authority has decided to stand up to the vandals by forming a neighborhood watch.

Last week, unidentified assailants attempted to set fire to a mosque in the Palestinian village of Kusra, and spray-painted Hebrew slogans on its walls. The incident is said to have been perpetrated in response to the Civil Administration's demolition of illegal structures in the nearby Jewish outpost of Migron.

"After the mosque was vandalized, we decided to put together a group of 15-20 residents who will patrol at night and alert (the authorities) if settlers infiltrate the village in order to damage homes or public buildings," Mayor Hani Ismail told Ynet.

According to Ismail, the patrolmen are not armed.

"We are not taking the law into our hands," he said. "The popular committee doesn't carry weapons, and it was instructed to report any suspicious activity to the town's councilmen, who are to relay the information to the Nablus governor's office."

The Nablus governor, in turn, is to alert the PA's Coordination and Liaison Administration, which will request its Israeli counterpart to dispatch troops, Ismail said.

Ismail noted that the night watch has already proved successful in deterring "price tag" activity.

"Last night at 11 pm, the patrolmen identified a group of settlers that tried to enter the village. They alerted us, and when the settlers realized they were exposed, they immediately ran away," he said.

A Palestinian official in the Nablus district expressed satisfaction at the new protection measure. "It's the residents' natural response to the attacks against them," he told Ynet. "It's time for the IDF to realize that if it doesn’t protect the residents, they will form a group that does."
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