Police arrest settlers suspected of attacking IDF soldiers near Yitzhar

The settlers claim that they have been arrested over arguing with the IDF and that their human rights have been infringed upon.

An illegal settlement built by Israeli settlers near the near the Yitzhar settlement in the Samaria region. (photo credit: BORDER POLICE SPOKESPERSON)
An illegal settlement built by Israeli settlers near the near the Yitzhar settlement in the Samaria region.

Israel Police arrested two suspects and detained three others in Yitzhar early Monday morning on charges of attacking IDF soldiers and torching a Palestinian car in a nearby village last week.

The arrests come after the IDF Spokesperson's Unit announced that settlers assaulted IDF soldiers after torching a Palestinian vehicle near the village of Urif early Wednesday morning.

Police stated on Monday morning that two of the suspects were arrested on a court order. One of the suspects is suspected of torching the Palestinian car while the others are suspects of attacking soldiers.

Legal defense

The right-wing Honenu legal aid organization, which is representing the settlers, expressed outrage at the arrests, claiming that the settlers were arrested because of a video published last week which shows them verbally arguing with soldiers.

In the video, one of the settlers could be heard saying "You want to hit me? Hit me. Day after day you arrest Jews."

 SETTLERS HURL stones at Palestinians during the annual harvest season, near the settlement of Yitzhar in 2020.  (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90) SETTLERS HURL stones at Palestinians during the annual harvest season, near the settlement of Yitzhar in 2020. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

According to Honenu, large forces of Israel Police's Central Unit in Judea and Samaria, Border Police and the YASAM Special Patrol Unit raided Yitzhar, entering and searching homes and confiscating cell phones and vehicles.

"Human rights in Israel are only if you are from the right political camp and not a settler," said Honenu in protest against the arrests. "In the State of Israel, some are allowed to steal tanks, while others are not allowed to argue with a soldier. They have not heard about human rights, individual freedom and democracy in the Judea and Samaria Central Unit. The unit continues in its pursuit and made show arrests for the media - all the sins of the detainees was that they were recorded in an argument with soldiers, to whom the residents protested for conducting illegal searches and harassment throughout a residential neighborhood and near houses in the middle of the night."

"Unfortunately, Israel Police, who expand the right to protest in Tel Aviv and in front of a certain public, to limits we did not know, in Yitzhar are arresting people for arguing with soldiers. For shame. We call on the minister and the government to immediately intervene in this circus."

Elhanan Gruner, a resident of Yitzhar, stated that police entered the settlement early in the morning, waking up his children.

"Black-clad men wildly knocked on the neighbor's house without saying it was the police. Unlike usual, there was no police car outside, only three people wearing black. An incident that could have ended in a police shooting because it triggered me into a situation of terrorist infiltration. Only after my screams did they answer that it was the police. Crazy people. They detained four residents on suspicion of a confrontation with soldiers," said Gruner.

"The start of the event was in total darkness. I've seen several police raids, but this was dangerous and delusional behavior by the Judea and Samaria Central Unit without connection to the security situation. Both my children and the neighbor's children woke up crying."

According to Honenu, five residents of Yitzhar were arrested in total on Monday morning, two of whom have since been released. Honenu attorney Moshe Polsky is representing the suspects.

"The opponents of the legal reform claim that it will harm human rights. And here in the case before us we witness time and time again a serious violation of the most basic rights of citizens - the right to freedom," said Polsky. "The rights of the residents of Yitzhar are no different from those of any other citizen in the State of Israel. Apparently, when you have sideburns, your law is different."

Palestinian media reported on Wednesday that a vehicle belonging to Palestinian West Bank resident Rajeh Hussein Al-Safadi was torched by Israeli settlers.

According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, the settlers were spotted by IDF lookouts as they were departing the settlement of Yitzhar towards the Palestinian village. IDF soldiers who arrived at the scene were blocked from entering the village by settlers in a vehicle. An argument broke out and the IDF attempted to arrest the driver, but others in the car managed to help him escape.

The soldiers began chasing after the settlers who escaped from the scene. During the chase, another car came from Yitzhar and sped toward the soldiers, almost running them over. The driver shouted at the soldiers and drove away.

One of the settlers then called for "backup" from Yitzhar, and another 15 vehicles came to the scene and blocked off and disrupted the soldiers.

A physical and verbal altercation broke out at the scene, with the settlers pushing, cursing at and blocking the way of the soldiers, according to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit. At one point they attempted to break into military vehicles.

"The IDF condemns any display of violence against soldiers and security forces. The security forces will continue to work to maintain security, law and order in Judea and Samaria, and will work to prevent violence and harm to citizens and residents," said the IDF Spokesperson's Unit last week.

IDF soldiers have been attacked by settlers repeatedly in recent months in the West Bank.

In November, a female IDF soldier was attacked by Israelis in Hebron as Israelis in the city marked the Shabbat when Parshat Chayei Sarah is read.

The soldier was attacked during a confrontation between Israeli worshippers and Palestinians at the entrance to the tomb of Otniel Ben Knaz, the first biblical judge of Israel.

In October, the commander of the IDF’s 202nd Paratrooper Battalion and a soldier were wounded by settlers who pepper-sprayed them in the Palestinian town of Huwara near Nablus.

The battalion arrived in Huwara in the predawn hours to quell a violent settler riot against Palestinians in a town that serves as one of the commercial hubs for the area.