Israel arrests settlers who attacked Palestinians: police

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel has arrested six Jewish settlers who allegedly carried out attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, police said on Wednesday.

Two teenagers and a soldier are among the six-member "extremist and violent" cell suspected of attacking Palestinian homes in the northern West Bank with Molotov cocktails and tear gas, a statement said.

The attacks took place in the second half of 2015 and also included the torching of Palestinian vehicles and throwing stones at them, it said.

Police described the suspects as members of an "extremist and violent organisation that systematically attacked Palestinians and their property in full awareness that this could endanger their lives."

The statement said the suspects admitted carrying out the attacks during questioning by the Shin Bet internal security agency and the police department dedicated to nationalist crimes.

Details of the case were released after authorities lifted a gag order that was imposed earlier this month following the arrests of the cell members, most of whom come from the Nahliel settlement northwest of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The six, who are to be charged in the coming days, allegedly threw Molotov cocktails at a Palestinian home in the village of Mazraa al-Qibliya last November while family members slept.

"A disaster was avoided by a miracle" when one Molotov cocktail rebounded off a window, the police statement said.

And in December the suspects threw a tear gas grenade at another Palestinian home overnight in the village of Beitillou.

"The father was awakened by the noise, felt difficulty breathing... and immediately took his wife and baby out the house," the police statement said.

In both cases anti-Arab slogans were scrawled on the walls of the houses.

There were no reports of casualties in the Beitillou and Mazraa al-Qibliya attacks.

But they are a stark reminder of the July 2015 arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma where an 18-month old baby was killed when his family home was firebombed by Jewish extremists.

Two Israelis were charged in January over those attacks.

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