Gantz denounces terror, condemns settler attack on Golani officer

One of the refusers turned violent against one of the officers, who issued a formal complaint following the altercation. According to an IDF spokesperson, he was punched several times.

An Israeli soldier stand guard at a bus station near the scene where a stolen car broke through a police checkpoint and hit a policeman outside Kedumim, in the West Bank on February 26, 2019.  (photo credit: HILLEL MAEIR/FLASH90)
An Israeli soldier stand guard at a bus station near the scene where a stolen car broke through a police checkpoint and hit a policeman outside Kedumim, in the West Bank on February 26, 2019.
(photo credit: HILLEL MAEIR/FLASH90)
Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz denounced terror as he condemned an alleged physical attack by a settler against a Golani officer during a West Bank protest outside the Kedumim settlement on Saturday night.
“We will not accept any act of terrorism or violence against civilians or soldiers,” Gantz said.
“I condemn the attack on the commander of the Golani regiment by a law breaker. The IDF and other security bodies will continue to maintain law and order in the face of the evil winds of incitement – with integrity and determination. The phenomenon of violence we have recently experienced will be severely dealt with,” Gantz said.
The Kedumim incident was the second such attack that night. Police arrested four suspects during a protest outside the Hashmonaim settlement on Saturday night, during a violent altercation in which stones and firecrackers were thrown at police officers. They also surrounded and damaged police vehicles, the police reported.
Both incidents occurred as part of a wave of protests by settlers and right-wing activists upset by the death of Ahuviya Sandak last month.
But it was the Kedumim incident that garnered the most attention, with settlers and the IDF putting forward radically different versions of an altercation between attorney Yehuda Shimon of the Gilad Fa outpost and Lt.-Col. Ayub Kiuf.
It occurred as the IDF and Israeli police attempted to clear the road by the settlement, which activists had blocked with a sit-in protest.
Shimon alleged that the soldiers had “touched” the teenage female protesters, with one of them “literally grabbing one of them near the chest.”
He explained, “I approached him [a soldier] and shouted, ‘do not touch the girls, do not touch the girls.’”
At that point, the “soldiers immediately jumped on me.” He had no idea, he said, that a battalion commander was among the soldiers who have surrounded him.
Video footage from the scene showed what looked like almost a brawl, with Shimon, a well known personality in the settlement movement, surrounded by soldiers and police. He then led by police away from the scene. He was arrested and released.
Shimon has alleged that he was injured by security officers in the head and has shown a photograph of his injury. He said he plans to file a civil lawsuit against the police and the IDF for a false arrest.
The IDF alleged that a Golani officer was physically attacked when security forces attempted to break up a protest by forcibly removing activists.
It said that one of the protesters turned violent and assaulted the officer, who did not suffer serious injuries.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi strongly condemned the attack of the officer.
“The attacking of an IDF officer, individuals who dedicate their days and their nights to protecting the civilians of Israel, by settlers, who are themselves protected by them, is absolutely improper,” the spokesperson continued, in the name of Kochavi. “We must fight against this sort of misconduct immediately, and bring those who committed these acts to justice.”
A military official denied the allegations of sexual harassment, stating that the soldiers conducted themselves properly when evacuating protesters from the road.
The Kedumim Council condemned the attack, with council head Hananel Dorani stating that the soldiers were like “our sons and our brothers” to whom “we owe a great debt.”
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan also condemned any violence against soldiers, but at the same time said that according to procedure, female officers should have been on hand to disperse the protesters. He added that the complaint that soldiers had inappropriately handled the female protesters was also very serious.
The left-wing group Peace Now said that there was nothing unique in the attack and that similar incidents had occurred time and again without any qualitative steps taken to quell the violence.
On Saturday night the left-wing group Yesh Din had reported that settlers and extreme Jewish activists had attacked Palestinian vehicles on the sidelines of some of these demonstrations including the one by Kedumim.
Other attacks against Palestinian vehicles, it alleged, occurred at the junctions of Shilo, Kedumim, Tapuah, Yitzhar and Etzion.
The group said that since December 21, it had documented 50 incidents of attacks against Palestinians and their property, including stoning of vehicles.
Separately on Sunday, a police detective involved in the accident in which Sandak was killed was arrested by the Police Investigation Department (PID) on suspicion of disrupting the investigation into the incident, according to Maariv, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication.
The arrest was made following the publication of the detective’s version of events in Kalman Liebskind’s Maariv column on Friday.
Sandak was killed in an accident while fleeing from police in the West Bank in December. While police claim that he was throwing rocks at Palestinian vehicles and that his car flipped after he fled when they arrived at the scene, protesters claim that the officers acted against the law.
Jerusalem Post Staff and Maariv contributed to this report.