2 off-duty soldiers arrested in W. Bank shooting

Settlers open fire on Arab village near Bat Ayin, riot breaks out, two Palestinians lightly wounded.

bat ayin view 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
bat ayin view 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Two soldiers on leave from the settlement of Bat Ayin, south of Jerusalem, were arrested by police on Saturday evening after using their military-issued guns to open fire on the neighboring Palestinian village of Hirbet Tzapa. Following the shootings, a riot erupted in the village, prompting the entrance of security forces. A violent clash between rioting villagers and security forces ensued, as the IDF and Border Police sought to subdue the riot "using riot-dispersal means," the IDF Spokesman said. The riot dispersal means did not include the use of live fire, the IDF Spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. Two Palestinians from the village sustained light to moderate wounds, though it was not immediately clear whether these were caused by the shootings or the subsequent clashes with security forces, the IDF Spokesman added. "Anyone involved in violent provocations will be immediately dealt with," the IDF said following the incident. "The IDF will not tolerate riots or illegal use of firearms," it added. The violence comes weeks after Bat Ayin was targeted by a murderous rampage launched by an ax-wielding Palestinian, who killed a 13-year-old teenager with a blow to the head, and injured a seven-year-old boy. The terrorist, who was later apprehended, hailed from the nearby village of Hirbet Tzapa. Early on Saturday evening, "A group of settlers from Bat Ayin began walking towards Hirbet Tzapa," the IDF Spokesman said, adding that the settlers had reached an area between Bet Ayin and Hirbet Tzapa known as Givat Muhtar. "An IDF force arrived at the scene and told the settlers to leave the area. The settlers were shown a decree stating that the ground they were on was a closed military zone," the army said. But the settlers ignored the soldiers, and continued to head towards the village. "A number of settlers then opened fire at the village," the IDF Spokesman said. The soldiers admitted to opening fire on the village, and were placed under arrest by police officers on the scene, a police source told The Jerusalem Post. The two suspects were being interrogated by police on Saturday evening. "The issue is now being jointly interrogated by the IDF and the police," the army said. A Border Police source told the Post that security forces would remain in the area to avoid further clashes. "The Border Police is still there. Settlers and villagers are throwing rocks at each other," the source said, speaking several hours after the incident on Saturday.