Police nab 5 mosque arson suspects in Yitzhar

Security forces search 2 Yitzhar yeshivot, recover spikes and other items described by police as "cold weapons."

yasuf mosque book 248.88 (photo credit: B'Tselem)
yasuf mosque book 248.88
(photo credit: B'Tselem)
Five people suspected of setting fire to a mosque in the Palestinian village of Yassuf in December were arrested in Yitzhar early Monday morning as dozens of policemen and Shin Bet security guards raided the West Bank settlement.
Three men, named as Zvi Succot, 20, Eliran Elgagi, 21, and Shlomo Gilbert, 21, were arrested "on suspicion of causing severe harm of Palestinian property," police said. Two minors were also arrested on similar charges.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is leading the investigation into the arson attack, and is questioning the five suspects.
The remand of all five suspects was extended by the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court by seven days.
Five additional people, four minors and a man named by police as David Bar-Matan, were also arrested during the raid, on suspicion of being involved in violent public disturbances in the northern West Bank.
Bar-Matan is suspected of taking part in a violent incident outside the home of a civil administration official. He was brought before the Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court on Monday, where he was released on bail. The remainder of the four suspects were released after being questioned.
Security forces launched a search of two Yitzhar yeshivot, recovering spikes and other items described by police as "cold weapons." Police did not specify if the spikes came from the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva or Dorshei Yichudcha Yeshiva.
According to right-wing activist Itamar Ben-Gvir, some 150 police wearing ski masks broke into both institutions before dawn on Monday.
Ben-Gvir alleged that police damaged property in the two religious institutions, overturning bookcases. He further alleged that they attacked students as well as the suspects they arrested.
They confiscated cameras and cell phones from students who tried to photograph their actions, said Ben-Gvir.
Spokesmen for the institutions as well as the Yitzhar community, located on a Samaria hilltop, refused to comment on the incident for the media.
A Judea and Samaria Police spokesman dismissed claims that the raids were carried out violently, and denied that members of the security forces wore face masks during the arrests.
"These claims are totally false," the spokesman said. "There was no force used because no resistance was encountered during the arrests," he added. "All of the arrests and searches were carried out in accordance with the law."
But right-wing activist Baruch Marzel of Hebron, whose 14-year-old son attends the Dorshei Yichudcha Yeshiva,  said that at 4:45 a.m. police broke into the dorm room his son shares with two other boys his age.
According to Marzel, when his son took out his cell phone to photograph them, police attacked him, twisting his arms and confiscating the phone. They later returned the phone, said Marzel.
None of the trio were suspects and there was no reason for the police to attack his son, said Marzel.
In this instance, he said, it was the police who acted like criminals.