IDF officer fires shots near settlers

Claims settler tried to take his gun; settlers say gunshots were unprovoked.

settler protest 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
settler protest 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Six settlers were arrested Saturday after a run-in with IDF troops near the settlement of Hashmonaim. An IDF officer fired in the air, afterwards claiming that the settlers tried to take away his gun. On Friday night, a group of 15 settlers arrived on the scene, a hill near Hashmonaim. The IDF claimed that they had cut the fence surrounding the site before climbing the hill and holding prayers. IDF soldiers and police arrived on the scene, waiting for prayers to end and then asking the settlers to leave the premises. The settlers claimed that the officer and the troops did not wait but rather immediately declared the site a closed military zone, saying that the settlers had ten minutes to evacuate the area. The settlers said that since Shabbat was at hand they decided to sit down and try and decide what course of action to take. At that point, they said, the IDF officer slit the tent that they had erected, yelling at them to "Leave, or I will shoot," and then cocking his weapon. The officer fired shots into the air and at the ground after they began to run away, claimed the settlers. According to IDF sources, the officer told the settlers that the troops were there to protect them. The settlers, said the IDF, refused to leave and gathered around the soldiers, calling them derogatory names such as "Nazi." The IDF said that one of the settlers touched the officer's gun with the intention of taking it, which caused the officer to push the settler and fire a warning shot into the air. The settlers claimed that no one tried to take away the officer's gun, and added that the officer did not only fire into the air but shot at the ground, which put them at risk.