Jewish youths hold an Israeli flag as they ride a donkey during a rally march outside the West Bank settlement of Itamar, near Nablus.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police on Wednesday night freed two members of the Itamar settlement’s security team, who are under investigation for shooting and wounding two Palestinians earlier this month.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said that the two men are still under investigation. Their weapons have been confiscated and they are banned from fully participating in the security team, he said.
The nongovernmental group Honenu had defended the two men and, together with attorney Adi Kedar, had secured their freedom only after appealing the arrest to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday.
“We regret the fact that only an appeal to the High Court of Justice led to the release of these two fighters,” said Kedar.
The two men testified that they, along with the IDF, responded to a report of a possible kidnapping in the area of their village, Kedar said.
“They saw that a driver of a military vehicle was surrounded by dozens of rioting Palestinians,” Kedar said. “Fearing that the driver’s life was in danger they shot in the air,” he added.
“The biased attitude of the police led to the false arrest of these two men,” Kedar charged. “Such an attitude by the police and by the lower courts, which upheld the arrest, weakens the ability of the IDF and the settler security teams to combat Palestinian violence.”
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“We’ll continue to defend the rights of civilian security teams and soldiers, particularly when they are protecting those in life-threatening situations,” Kedar said.
Rosenfeld said that two Palestinians were shot on January 3, one in the hand and one in the leg, during an incident that occurred near the Itamar settlement.
Police had spoken to the two members of the security team, who said they had been in the area in response to another incident that occurred between Palestinians and settlers, Rosenfeld said.
Initially, he said, four Palestinians were arrested in connection with reports of violence that day, but after questioning they were cleared of suspicion and released.
The police, he said, determined that the initial incident that the security team described to them had not occurred. The police, he said, then began to suspect that the security team members could be connected to the shooting of the two Palestinians.
“The testimony [the two members of the Itamar security team] gave was incorrect and not precise,” Rosenfeld said.
He added that the police were concerned that the two men had improperly used their weapons and endangered local Palestinians. He added that he knew of no kidnapping incident.
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