Settler attacks raise West Bank tension ahead of UN vote

12:00 Sep 15 2011 Beit Furik

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -- An escalation in Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank risks triggering retaliation, a Palestinian official said on Thursday, pointing to a growing risk to stability in the region.

"In the last 10 days, there have been a few incidents almost every day. The continuity of violence is playing the role of inciting Palestinians for a violent response," he said. "That might bring us back to the vicious circle of violence that we all wanted to avoid."

Three cars were torched in the early hours of Thursday morning in the village of Beit Furik, just outside Nablus -- an area home to some of the most ideological members of the settler movement.

Beit Furik Mayor Atef Hanani said it was the first time settlers had staged such an attack in the village. "People are on guard," he added. "We need to take a stand to defend ourselves and our property."

One apparent trigger for the latest wave was the Israeli authorities' removal of buildings at an unauthorized settler outpost on Sept. 5.

The name of the settlement, Migron, was daubed on the walls of a mosque which was set ablaze in the village of Qusra the same day. In the past, such attacks have been seen as a form of reprisal by the settlers.
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