(photo credit: SARAH LEVIN)
Officers from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the police arrested a teenager Saturday night who is suspected of attacking and pulling a knife last month on Rabbis for Human Rights head Arik Ascherman.
The suspect was arrested at his family home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, where Judea and Samaria District Police said they also found stun grenades, an assault rifle clip filled with bullets, a slingshot, and the ski mask and knife that police believe were used in the attack. Authorities said the youth confessed to the attack and reenacted it.
On Sunday he was taken to the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court, where his remand was extended for four days. He currently stands accused of aggravated assault.
The attack on Rabbi Ascherman was caught on tape last month, and the footage quickly went viral. Just before the attack, Ascherman and other activists had been helping Palestinians harvest olives near Itamar, part of a harvest outing that was coordinated with Israeli security forces.
In the video, Ascherman can be seen on a hillside grappling with a man wearing a ski mask and holding a rock and pushing him down a hill. At one point he pulls a knife out of his back pocket and begins threatening Ascherman and slashing at him with the knife, forcing him down the hill. Though he did not stab Ascherman, he kicked him several times, put him in a headlock and threw a rock at him before fleeing.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post after the incident, Ascherman said that after the security forces left, people whom he presumed to be settlers entered the Palestinian groves and began to steal olives and equipment and set trees alight. He said that when he then went to try to put out one of the fires, the masked man attacked him and a Belgian journalist.
At the time, the Judea and Samaria police said in a statement that a group of “anarchists” had “provoked” a clash with settlers, but after the footage emerged they termed it a “very serious” incident, and said they would show zero tolerance for such actions.
Following news of the arrest Sunday, Ascherman said that “we are grateful to the dedicated work of the police in this case.
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