Remains of burnt Beduin tent .
(photo credit: RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the nationalist crimes unit of the Israel Police arrested two Israelis suspected of torching a Beduin tent in the West Bank last month, the agency cleared for publication on Monday.
The suspects, Beit Shemesh resident Avi Gafny, 19, and an unnamed minor, were indicted by the Jerusalem District Court for arson, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. A third suspect was arrested but has not been charged.
The Shin Bet said that Gafny is an activist with the so-called “hilltop youth” group of extremists in the West Bank, and that he has recently been residing at the Baladim outpost outside Kochav Hashahar in the northern West Bank.
Judea and Samaria district police served him with restraining orders banning him from the West Bank on three occasions over the past two years, because of “information indicating involvement in a number of incidents of arson of property and religious sites belonging to Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem,” the intelligence agency said.
The tent that was torched on August 13, near the village of Ein Samia, was used as a storage facility. Investigators found Hebrew graffiti sprayed on a stone at the scene reading “Administrators of revenge,” believed to be a reference to the arrests of three right-wing Jewish extremists that were placed on administrative detention.
No one was harmed in the fire, which is believed to have been a “price tag” incident, the term used to describe acts of violence and or vandalism committed by Jewish extremists against Palestinians to protest Israeli government and security policies in the West Bank. At the time, the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights said that “luckily there were no people in the tent, but only food for herd animals.”
The Shin Bet and the Israel Police are the subject of ongoing criticism for their failure to solve the deadly arson attack in the Palestinian village of Duma on July 31 that killed three members of the Dawabsha family. The attack is widely believed to have been committed by Jewish right-wing extremists, but no one has yet been arrested for the crime.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.