Settlers allegedly beat cops posing as Palestinians

Court remands three settlers accused of assaulting undercover police dressed as Palestinian shepherds in the West Bank.

Handcuffs (illustrative photo) 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Handcuffs (illustrative photo) 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Sunday extended by two days the remand of three settlers arrested last week for attacking three undercover Israel Police officers on a hilltop in the South Hebron Hills.
The police were  posing as Palestinian shepherds as part of an undercover sting to fight settler violence against Palestinian civilians, police said.
According to the court protocol, on Thursday, three cops dressed as Palestinian shepherds were standing on a hill outside Sussiya when a settler approached them and told them they had one minute to leave. Police said the suspect then made a phone call and within moments, three additional suspects arrived armed with sticks, with their T-shirts pulled over their faces as masks.
Police said the men immediately began attacking the officers, who began yelling “police! police!” and fighting back, using pepper spray and arresting the three suspects.
The fourth man, the one who initially called the three suspects for back-up, fled and has not been arrested.
Police said that one of the officers was hit in the back of the neck with a stick, and one was kicked by one of the suspects.
According to police, the undercover operation was called after a long series of attacks in the South Hebron Hills by settlers against Palestinian shepherds and leftwing activists working with them.
The suspects, Shimon Ben- Gigi, 22, Ilan Fier Yan Vinelda, 43, and David Popko, 24, all live in Sussiya, according to the court protocol.
The suspects’ attorney told the judge that the incident took place next to Sussiya in the “patrol area” of a farm called Mount Sinai where owner, Yair Har-Sinai, then 51 and a father of nine, was murdered by gunmen in 2001.
The attorney said Har- Sinai’s wife saw three men just next to her farm who appeared to be shepherds but had no flock with them, only a single donkey, and became scared and called for help.
The attorney added that since there was not any IDF or police presence nearby she called the nearby settlement security officers, who came to her assistance.
The attorney added that the undercover action endangered the safety of the police.
Also on Sunday, left-wing activists reported that a group of masked settlers attacked Palestinian olive pickers working on a field they own next to the settlement of Nachliel. A fight broke out and soldiers fired in the air to scatter the two sides, the activists said.