In one of the most violent incidents since the start of the moratorium on new
Jewish construction in the West Bank, eight police officers and 38 settlers were
lightly hurt at the Beit El settlement Tuesday morning in clashes between the
Settlers claimed that police had attacked them with pepper
spray, while police contended that they had been stoned and called “Nazis.”
haven’t seen an incident like this, which had so much hatred and violence
directed toward us, in the Binyamin region,” said Ch.- Supt. Moti Shoshan,
deputy commander of the Binyamin Police station, who led the police forces
during the clashes, in which nine settlers were arrested.
called me a ‘Nazi,’” Shoshan told The Jerusalem Post
His forces had gone into Beit El along with members of the civil
administration to destroy two shacks that had been been built in violation of
the 10-month moratorium on new construction. Students in the nearby high school
raced out of class to prevent the demolition. Four settlers were arrested for
assaulting and disrupting the officers.
Scores of teens tried to stop the
security vehicles from leaving the settlements with the four who had been
They placed a utility pole in front of a security vehicle, and
dozens sat in the road in front of one of the vehicles.
To clear the road,
Border Police used pepper spray and clubs.
A spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Police said that some of the 150 teens had
tried to block their path and hurled bricks, rocks and paint. A number of the
youths threw a smoke grenade at officers, attempted to steal police equipment
and punctured tires with spikes.
Seven spikes were seized after the youths
were arrested, Shoshan said.
“When they started to throw blocks at us, I
ordered my officers to move in,” he added.
“I’m not talking about paint
and eggs, but about the big rocks and blocks that were hurled at us from two
directions,” he went on. “Some officers were wounded in the back and other areas
in the body. Luckily, none were struck on the head. These were big rocks.
If an officer had been hit on the head, he would have been seriously injured.”
Shoshan said the rioters had been encouraged to confront police by Rabbi Zalman
Baruch Melamed, the settlement’s rabbi. He accused Melamed of having created a
Melamed refused to comment on the
Shoshan insisted that police had gone to Beit El without
intending to confront anyone
“We had a number of detained youths in our
custody, and we were asked by residents to let them go,” he explained
had no problem with letting them go, because their involvement was not major.
But then Rabbi Melamed instructed his followers to make more demands, saying we
must delete photographs we took. Then I realized these were just stalling
tactics and that they were trying to prevent us from leaving.”
In addition to
the four arrests at the start of the incident, two minors were detained on
suspicion of planning to attack officers, police said. A third, female suspect
was arrested for attacking an officer. Two youths who had been seen throwing
rocks at police earlier were arrested outside the settlement.
the clash was “one of the most severe incidents that we have seen since the ban
on new settlement construction went into effect” on November 26.
eyewitnesses said it had been the police who acted violently,
using pepper spray at close range.
One woman called it a “pogrom.”
Eyewitnesses also noted that security forces had come at a time when
students could be easily rallied to oppose them.
Had the forces entered at
4 a.m., this never would have happened, said one.
To protest the incident,
the Binyamin Citizens’ Committee held six separate protest rallies on
evening. One was next to the T-junction on Route 60, another was at the
junction, and a third took place next to Kochav Ya’acov.
rallies were held next to the homes of civil administration employees in
Jerusalem, as well as in the Ofra and Peduel settlements.
A spokesman for
the Binyamin Citizens’ Committee added that as a protest gesture, work
started on a new home in Efrat.
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