palestinians throw stones in Beit Omar_311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Judea and Samaria police arrested two settlers Friday on suspicion that they were involved in a fatal shooting incident near Hebron that left a 17-year-old Palestinian youth dead.
The youth, named as Yousef Ikhlayl, was reportedly shot during a clash between settlers and Palestinians near the village of Hirbat Safa, a part of Beit Omar.
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A second teen, Bilal Mohammad Abed Al-Qador was shot in the arm in the same incident.
Settlers have explained they were out hiking on Friday morning, as part of an organized group, which embarks on such walks in Judea and Samaria every couple of weeks.
According to settlers they passed by the village and stopped at an archeological site a short distance away. A group of Palestinians threw stones at them and they fled without firing a shot.
Palestinians in turn have alleged that the settlers came to the edge of the village and shot at Palestinians, killing Ikhlayl and wounding Al-Qador. Ikhlayl was shot in the head, evacuated to a hospital in Hebron where he died later that day. He was buried on Saturday.
Police on Friday briefly detained 20 of the hikers for questioning and then released them. In addition, they arrested two settlers on suspicion that they were involved in the incident.
A police source said the suspects, a 29-year-old from the settlement of Alon Shvut, who also resides in Lod for periods of time, and a 25-year-old from the Otniel settlement, were offering only “partial cooperation” during questioning, adding, “We believe they are not telling us everything.” Police have not said what specific role they attribute to the suspects at this stage, and say more arrests are possible as the investigation progresses.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer reacted to the incident and called on police to gather settlers’ weapons.
“The police must collect the majority of the firearms possessed by settlers and act strictly against every citizen who is trigger-happy and kills Palestinians for no reason,” Oppenheimer said.
Right-wing activist Baruch Marzel also offered his take on the events, saying that Jews are allowed to protect themselves.
“I call on the public not to be deterred and to continue to travel throughout Israel,” Marzel said. “The Arabs need to take into account that the Jews are not suckers and are allowed to protect themselves against those who want to deprive them of life.” It was the second such incident within 24 hours. On Thursday, a Palestinian teen from the West Bank village of Iraq Burin was killed after he threatened a pedestrian with a rock, the Judea and Samaria Police said.
The police said that they did not know the identity of the pedestrian, but that they were exploring the possibility that he was Israeli, and maybe a settler.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.