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Israel security cabinet to 'mull response to settler attacks'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Israel's security cabinet was to meet Wednesday to discuss a response to attacks by hardline Jewish settlers on soldiers in the occupied West Bank after calls for tough action, public radio said.

The meeting comes after settlers attacked soldiers for the second night in a row, despite a warning from the defence minister of a tough response.

"Border guards and soldiers were attacked by stone throwing during their night patrols" near the Yitzhar settlement in the northern West Bank, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP earlier Wednesday.

"The situation is calm now but could escalate at any moment, and security forces are deployed at Yitzhar."

Rosenfeld said there had been no casualties but that two settlers had later been arrested.

On Monday night, stone-throwing by settlers injured six border guards as they helped demolish a wildcat settlement outpost near Yitzhar.

The injuries prompted Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon to warn that any further violence against security personnel would be dealt with severely.

"We shall not allow them to raise a hand against the army, the border police (or) the police," Yaalon's office quoted him as saying.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also urged a "strong response to these... acts of hooliganism."

Referring to the meeting of the security cabinet, public radio quoted a security source as saying "the army... is demanding instructions on how to react when facing attacks by Jewish terrorists."

Israeli human rights group Yesh Din charged that the army had emboldened hardliners in Yitzhar by failing to do more in response to their attacks on Palestinians.

And the chief administrator of Israel's northern West Bank settlements blamed the government for the upsurge in violence.

Gershon Messika told public radio the defence ministry was to blame for "destroying houses that were on the verge of obtaining (legal) authorisation."

Israel has demolished a number of so-called "wildcat" outposts set up by hardline settlers without government authorisation but around 100 remain.

It quietly "legalised" several wildcat outposts in 2012, according to Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now.

The international community regards all West Bank settlements as illegal, regardless of whether they are authorised by the Israeli government or not.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140409/israel-security-cabinet-mull-response-settler-attacks