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Torched mosque (archives) Photo: B'Tselem
Torched mosque (archives) Photo: B'Tselem
 
 

10 detained in Yitzhar over mosque arson

Residents say more than 100 members of security forces arrived in West Bank settlement, arrested 10 people, including minors, on suspicion of setting fire to Muslim house of prayer in Palestinian village of Yasuf last month

Efrat Weiss
Published: 01.18.10, 08:35 / Israel News

The police and Shin Bet on Sunday night detained 10 people in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, on suspicion of being involved in the torching of a mosque in the Palestinian village of Yasuf last month and in other offenses.

 

The police reported that Zvi Sukkot of Yitzhar, Eliran Elgali of Yitzhar and Shlomo Gilbert of Elon Moreh, all 20 years old, are suspected of badly damaging Palestinian property. Two yeshiva students were also detained.

 

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During the arrest, the police searched a yeshiva in the settlement and found violent measures, including spikes.

 

Five other suspects, four of them minors, were arrested on suspicion of rioting in the Samaria area. The fifth is also suspected of demonstrating outside the home of a Civil Administration inspector.

 

According to local residents, more than 100 members of the security forces arrived at the community in order to carry out the arrests. One of the detainees was said to have lost his consciousness during the arrest. All the suspects were taken in for questioning.

 

An Yitzhar resident told Ynet, "Where have the human rights organizations gone? What happened tonight in Yitzhar was a pogrom. The police would not let themselves behave this way with any other population in the State of Israel. They beat us, damaged property and even confiscated cameras documenting their actions. Good morning, Iran."

 

An officials at the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva said in response, "There is no doubt that such brutal acts make our routine life difficult, but unfortunately we have already gotten used to the establishment persecuting the yeshiva rabbis and students. The students are determined to continue studying and spreading the Torah."

 

The Judea and Samaria District Police refused to comment on the claims of violence.

 

Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari (National Union) slammed Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch following the incident. "The internal security minister does not lose sleep over acts of crime, murder and pedophilia, but sends hundreds of police officers to carry out acts of vandalism in Yitzhar, while blatantly violating human rights and hiding evidence of the policemen's actions," he said. 

 

Fire was set to a large mosque in the Palestinian village of Yasuf, east of Salfit, on December 11. Hebrew slurs were sprayed on the walls that said: "We will burn all of you." The words "price tag" were also scrawled on the walls.

 

"Price tag" is the slogan adopted some months ago by extremist settlers who carry out reprisals against Palestinians in response to the evacuation of settlement structures by Israeli forces.

 

Clashes broke out between IDF forces and Palestinians near the village after the incident. As the Muslim worshippers left their Friday prayers, a number of Palestinians threw stones at IDF forces in the village. As a result, a Border Guard officer was lightly wounded. The Palestinians claim the soldiers responded with live fire and tear gas.

 

As a result of the shooting, the Palestinians said two people were lightly injured. They sources further claimed that settlers joined in the clashes.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the defense establishment to work to locate and arrest those behind the arson, and called for the justice to be served. The minister's office published a statement saying he considers the incident a very grave one and said, "This is an extreme act meant to harm any of the government's attempts to advance the process for Israel's future."

 

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