Clashes between settlers and Palestinians broke out Sunday following a rally commemorating the deaths of Asher Palmer and his infant son Yehonatan in Kiryat Arba last Friday.
Some 150 people held a protest rally in the scene of the terror attack prior to the victims' funeral. They marched towards Kiryat Arba and clashes broke out near the Beit Anoun village. The two sides began hurling stones at each other. IDF and police forces arrived at the scene to end the violence using crowd dispersal means.
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During the rally, Rabbi Dov Lior called for a collective punishment to be carried out against the "rioters."
"We have murderous rioters surrounding us, according to the Torah, there is room for collective punishment and the IDF must carry out the punishment against the rioters. There are no innocents in a war," the rabbi said.
Funeral of Asher Palmer and son Yehonatan (Photo: Noam Moskovitz)
The city's Jewish spokesman Noam Arnon added: "I say this with a great deal of pain and sadness – there was an attempt to hide the truth. We know the effort put in here by the security forces and we cherish that, but we must say that this repulsive attempt to hide the truth was not the only one, this unthinkable thing was done without any clear motives."
Police initially claimed the car crash which killed the father and son was the result of an accident but later concluded that stones had been hurled at the vehicle, which caused it to overturn. Settler leaders leveled harsh criticism at the police for what they referred to as a "cover up."
'No innocents in war.' Rabbi Dov Lior (Photo: Noam Moskovitz)
Asher Palmer's brother Shmuel addressed the failure of the police to declare the incident a terror attack from the beginning. "The police are a problematic organization as is the IDF. And I say this as a reservist," he said. He added that he could understand talk of revenge. "A Jew was murdered here because he was a Jew, and this cannot be ignored. We shall prevail at the end, the only question is how. We are here to stay."
Meir Bartler, one of the Hilltop Youth leaders, said that his men will not stay silent. "The hurling of stones must be stopped. If the IDF can't do it, then we'll do it and we know how. We shall deploy our men along the line. Anyone with a licensed weapon will arrive and we'll equip others with batons and protective gear."
Funeral procession (Photo: Noam Moskovitz)
The police said in response: "The initial investigation indicated the incident was the result of a self-inflicted car accident causing the car to crash into a pile of rocks. Evidence found inside the vehicle led the police to perform an external autopsy at the State and the family's approval.
"The autopsy indicated that the driver was hit in the head by a blunt object which led us to believe that a rock may have been hurled at the car. The family was informed of the progress in the case. The investigation is still ongoing and the family will be provided with all the findings when it concludes. "
IDF: No cover up
The IDF Spokesperson's Office rejected claims that it did not tell the truth about the terror attack, and tried to cover it up as an accident.
"The IDF is completely rejecting the claims. As the investigation developed, the police presented new findings related to the circumstances of the incident," the statement said.
The IDF expressed regret over the death of the father and son, and stressed that the preliminary investigation that it concluded on Friday was based on evidence collected by police investigators who arrived at the scene of the car crash.
"A Central Command check held Friday indicated no stones were hurled at the car from the side of the road. Further findings then suggested the possibility that stones had been hurled from a passing vehicle. The issue is being checked," it said.