Israel: Students Built, Fired Rocket at Palestinian Village

Israeli security officials said Friday that students from a far-right Jewish theological seminary at a West Bank settlement recently built a crude rocket and fired it a nearby Palestinian village, although it failed to reach its target.

The officials said troops in the area heard a loud explosion and initially thought Palestinians were attacking the settlement of Yitzhar, where the seminary is situated. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident, which occurred about two weeks ago, is still being investigated by police and agents of the Shin Bet security agency.

Police spokesman Danny Poleg said detectives searched the settlement Thursday and questioned residents but made no arrests and found no explosives. He would not comment further.

The Israeli daily Maariv, which reported on the incident Friday, said police believe the perpetrator probably found rocket-making instructions on the Internet.

Until a truce with Islamic militants took effect Thursday, Palestinians regularly fired rockets into Israel from Gaza.

Yitzhar is a known hotbed of ultranationalist Israelis who believe that the West Bank is part of the biblical land of Israel promised to the Jewish people by God and oppose any concessions to the Palestinians.

An instructor at the seminary was arrested in 2006 on suspicion of inciting violence against Arabs

Yitzhar residents have repeatedly fought farmers from the Palestinian villages that surround their hilltop settlement and have clashed with police sent to supervise demolition of unlicensed buildings in the area.

In 2006 the Israeli army withdrew troops stationed at Yitzhar for its protection, citing repeated settler attacks on soldiers and destruction of military equipment.