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Jewish militants banned from West Bank

Palestinians stand inside a damaged mosque in the West Bank village of Burka in December 2011. Several Palestinian mosques have been torched and desecrated recently, with militant Jewish settlers the likely culprits. (Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

Israel temporarily banished a dozen suspected Jewish extremists from the West Bank on Thursday as part of a crackdown ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a series of attacks on Palestinians and the military.

An army statement said that the top military commander in the West Bank had signed “administrative removal orders” for 12 Jewish activists for periods ranging from three to nine months. The statement added that the group had been involved in “leading, directing and carrying out widespread violent and clandestine activities” against Palestinians and Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Militant Jewish settlers have recently stepped up what they call “price tag” attacks in response to moves by the Israeli authorities to demolish unauthorized settlement outposts in the West Bank.

Several Palestinian mosques have been torched and desecrated, stones have been thrown at Palestinian cars, and last month Jewish militants attacked army officers and rampaged in a military base in the West Bank.

The violence against the military outraged Israelis and drew condemnations across the political spectrum, prompting the government to announce a crackdown that it said would include jailing suspected extremists without charges and trying rioters in military courts, measures routinely used against Palestinians.

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