Synagogue burned at Samaria outpost

October 27, 2007 23:36
2 minute read.

Two acts of vandalism committed against settlers in the Binyamin area on Friday added to the annual tensions between local Jews and Palestinians during the fall olive harvest. On Friday morning, police received a report from the IDF that while "opening" a route around the Yad Yair outpost, near Dolev, troops saw that the road had been blocked with boulders. Suspecting that the blockade indicated illegal activity, the soldiers searched the area and discovered that a trailer used as a study room and storage area, and as a synagogue on Mondays and Thursdays, had been burned to the ground. Security forces, including IDF units, police and firefighters, were called to the scene, but as of Saturday evening, the reason for the blaze was unknown. Samaria and Judea Police said that they were awaiting the official opinion of a fire inspector before judging whether or not arson had been committed. Investigators discovered tracks of two people leading away from the scene of the blaze toward Ramallah. Police said that there were prayer books in the trailer, but that no Torah scrolls had been inside at the time of the fire. Later Friday afternoon, the security director of the settlement of Neriya reported that he saw a large group of people descending from a nearby Palestinian village and entering a nearby vineyard operated by Dolev resident Shlomi Cohen. "In light of past experience with such events in the vineyard, a small group under the command of the security chief arrived at the scene," said Samaria and Judea Police spokesman Dani Falk. Three British women were detained at the scene by the security team, who called police and IDF. The additional forces en route to the scene said that they encountered barriers of stones which they believe were placed in the road to delay security forces from reaching the vineyard. Police said that there was damage to the irrigation system in the vineyard and that some plants had been uprooted. Representatives of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza said that over 5,000 grapevines had been uprooted. "This is the third time in the last two months in which an incident such as this one occurred in the same place," said Yesha spokesman Yishai Hollander. "This incident comes following the burning of the synagogue in Yad Yair this morning, which is located in the same area." Hollander emphasized the gravity of the situation in light of the shmita (sabbatical) year, which means the plants could not be replanted until next year. "The local residents are upset that the security forces once again did not succeed in preventing the vandalism, and demand the expanding of security and, as a response, forbidding the residents of the neighboring Palestinian village, Mizra'a a-Kabaliya, from harvesting their olives," wrote Hollander.

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