Settler arrested on weapons charges

Police won't confirm that yeshiva student was apprehended in connection with failed rocket attack.

Kassam in ground 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 10 )
Kassam in ground 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 10 )
A student from a yeshiva in the Samaria settlement of Yitzhar was arrested over the weekend in connection with a rocket attack on a nearby Palestinian village. If confirmed, it would be the first instance of an Israeli firing a homemade rocket at a Palestinian target. The attack, which was originally reported on June 20, featured a crude rocket - similar to the Kassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on communities in the South - that struck an open area between Yitzhar and the Palestinian village of Burin. The rocket landed meters away from a Breslov hassid who was praying in the area. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police had arrested Gilad Herman, a student at the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in Yitzhar "in connection with the house-to-house search that took place about a month ago for weapons." That search, which also entailed the removal of an illegal caravan, sparked a clash between Yitzhar residents and police, in which 11 residents and five officers were wounded. While Rosenfeld would not confirm whether Herman's arrest was connected to the rocket attack, Judea and Samaria Police spokesman Ch.-Supt. Danny Poleg told The Jerusalem Post that police had been pursuing Herman since the attack took place in June. "There was an investigation into the rocket attack and a couple weeks later we obtained search warrants for the yeshiva," Poleg said. "We had several other warrants for illegal buildings and caravans as well, and we were looking for [Herman] for about a month." Poleg said Herman had gone into hiding, and that police had obtained an arrest warrant for him that was served over the weekend. "The investigation is ongoing, and [Herman] will be detained until Monday morning," he said. Meanwhile, residents of the small community south of Nablus were distancing themselves from the incident and the suspect. "He's not from Yitzhar," said community spokesman Yigal Amitai of Herman. "He's from a moshav in the North and he was a student in our educational system for a short time. The attack has nothing to do with Yitzhar, and the residents don't have anything to say about it. We're not involved." After the explosion, however, a large number of IDF soldiers arrived in the area, under the impression that a terror attack had occurred. Once on the scene, the soldiers discovered that the rocket had been fired from Yitzhar and not from Palestinian territory. "That's the only relationship between this situation and our community," Amitai said. "We were just a stop on the way." When IDF Central Command was informed that Jews had fired the rocket, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Judea and Samaria Police opened an investigation. Another Yitzhar resident told the Post on Sunday that he knew little about the attack or the suspect and had found out about the incident from the press. "I didn't know him," the resident said. "I didn't know anything about the attack until I saw it in the newspaper. From what I understand, he learned how to build the rocket on the Internet." The resident also said the attack could further strain already tense relations between the community and police. "They don't get along with the police out here, but I can see the argument both ways," he said. "On one hand, yeah, it puts pressure on the community when something like this happens, but I could see how someone might argue that if we don't show people that we mean business, the same thing will happen here that happened in Gush Katif."