Settlers furious over 'reconnaissance arrests'

Activists in custody for monitoring security forces; settler leader to 'Post': Police, prosecutors have lost their sanity.

Hilltop youth [illustrative] 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Hilltop youth [illustrative] 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
The continued custody of six activists arrested last week on suspicion of monitoring the movements of security forces in the West Bank is creating a firestorm in the settler community.
Police said the suspects, five adults and a minor from West Bank settlements and Jerusalem, regularly carried out reconnaissance on army and Border Police movements, in order to thwart demolitions of outposts and direct fellow activists to the scene of clashes.
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“The suspicions are that they collected classified information without permission, and committing rebellion,” Judea and Samaria Police spokeswoman Nurit Tzemah told The Jerusalem Post. “They warned other far- Right activists, with a view to mobilizing them to areas and creating disturbances.”
The arrests are the first of their kind, and come after police and state prosecutors held meetings to decide what laws the suspects allegedly violated.
Settler leaders who condemned the arrests said the suspects were being held for spying.
“Spying isn’t the right word,” Tzemah said. “This is part of determined law enforcement efforts. We have the findings to back up our suspicions.”
But Itzik Shadmi, head of the Binyamin Citizens Council in the West Bank, slammed the arrests as “a campaign waged by people who have lost their minds and their sanity.”
Authorities behind the arrest “first drew a circle around their targets, and then searched for a pretext to make the arrests,” Shadmi said. He noted that there were smart-phone applications that tracked the movements of police.
“This [the arrests] is a mockery of the law,” he said. “The significance behind the suspicions is that they are turning us into enemies. The understanding is that whoever received this information is an enemy [of Israel].”
On Thursday, the Jerusalem Juvenile Court ruled that the surveillance posts in question were not civilian in nature, and that they were set up to allow activity on the level of the far-Right raid on the Ephraim military base last month, in which dozens of youths broke into the facility and vandalized military vehicles and equipment.