Palestinian police apprehended a settler who fled unwittingly into a Palestinian village to elude the IDF on Sunday morning, following an incident on the Homesh hilltop, near Nablus.
The young man was a student in the unauthorized Homesh Yeshiva, located on the ruins of the former Homesh settlement, which the IDF destroyed in the summer of 2005 during disengagement.
The yeshiva has since then held daily classes, in a tent.
On Sunday morning, the IDF and the Border Police parked their vehicles at the entrance to the former Homesh settlement. They proceeded to walk up to the tent where they surprised the students as they studied, according to a settler source.
The source said the students ran away from the security forces, and accused the IDF and the Border Police of using unnecessary violence, including tear gas, against the students.
Three students were arrested – one of whom was dragged to a security jeep parked near the Palestinian village of Burka. When the student fled from the security forces he unknowingly ran into the Palestinian village, the source said, adding that the Palestinians beat him and placed him in a vehicle. The student believed he had been kidnapped, but was able to call his friends, who contacted an IDF reservist unit in the area.
A Palestinian Authority security source said that the settler entered the village as the children were leaving school.
According to the source, some of the children attacked the settler before he was apprehended by PA policemen.
Ghaasan Daghlas, who is in charge of the Settlement portfolio in the northern West Bank, said that the settler entered the village on foot, by mistake, and that schoolchildren and other villagers beat the settler, who “begged” them to leave him alone.
He said that the settler was handed over to the IDF through the District Coordinating Office. The IDF then handed him over to the Israeli police.
Settler leaders and right-wing politicians lashed at the IDF and Border Police, charging that their actions endangered the life of an Israeli citizen.
“The IDF should be using its resources to defend Israeli citizens and should not be violently attacking those who study the Torah,” said Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, in whose region the incident occurred.
Benny Katzover, who heads the Samaria Citizens committee, charged that the security forces’ “irresponsible behavior” almost cost a man his life.
He said that he held Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accountable for the security force’s actions on Homesh.
Mesika and MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) called on the IDF to allow the yeshiva student to continue studying on the Homesh hilltop.
In January of this year, settler leaders signed a charter vowing to rebuild Homesh.
The Palestinians, in turn, with the help of the Israeli nongovernmental organization Yesh Din, sought permission to farm on the Homesh hilltop.
In June the state canceled the 1978 military land seizure order, under which land that originally belonged to Palestinians was eventually transformed into a Jewish community.
In September, the Attorney-General’s Office ruled that the area was no longer closed to Palestinians. The IDF at the time clarified that the site would remain closed to Israelis.
In spite of the ruling, the Palestinians have not been able to farm the land there.
Israelis have continued to visit the site and the Homesh Yeshiva continues to hold classes there.