Settlers in Jerusalem protest

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The Independent Online
Jerusalem (AP) - The escalating conflict between Israel's government and Jewish settlers spilled over yesterday to Jerusalem, where police used water cannon and horses to disperse several hundred jeering demonstrators.

The demonstrators, protesting against the arrest earlier in the day of two settler organisers, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Nadia Matar, locked arms and marched on the Jerusalem jail where the two had been held.

Police pushed them back and four officers on horseback charged into the crowd, batons swinging. Protesters screamed "Fascists" and "police state", and struck at the kicking horses with flag sticks and their bare hands. Ten protesters were detained, and several were injured.

When the angry protesters refused to leave, police brought out a water cannon truck and sprayed the crowd. The demonstration finally broke up after police said Riskin and Matar had been taken to a Tel Aviv jail.

The two leaders were arrested yesterday morning in a protest at Dagan Hill, 20 miles south of Jerusalem on the West Bank, where settlers and Israeli troops have clashed every day this week. In a now familiar scene, police and soldiers grappled with settlers, including women and children, and carried them off to buses.

Hundreds of settlers, angry at the Israeli government's plans to turn over parts of the occupied West Bank to Palestinian control, have been setting up makeshift neighbourhoods on barren hillsides in the West Bank in an effort to stake claim to the land. Settlers camped on two other West Bank hilltops near the settlements of Beit El and Kedumim last night, setting the stage for more clashes..

The Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, called the protests "an attempt to create a rift in the nation" and said the settlers were endangering their own security by diverting the very troops assigned to protect them.

"We are at the beginning of a period where an attempt will be made to violate law and order ... and set up fictitious settlements," he said. "We will enforce the law without hesitation."