Police free settlers arrested for seizing soldier's weapon
Police release men arrested for snatching rifle from soldier after determining initial report by army had been incorrect. In second incident, IDF says settler pulled out knife during altercation with troops, pressed it to soldier's throat. Settlers deny report, threaten to sue IDF for libel
Settlers clashed with a group of soldiers at the Havat Gilad outpost in the West Bank on Thursday afternoon. During the course of the altercation one of the settlers pulled out a knife and pressed it to a soldiers' throat in threat. The settler snatched the soldier's helmet and fled the scene, the soldier was
IDF troops have begun searching after the perpetrator. Military officials told Ynet that the incident was viewed severely and would be dealt with. "A red line has been crossed here, this is very serious," they said.
At Havat Gilad, settlers denied one of their group had threatened a soldier with a knife.
The settlers confirmed however that a helmet had been stolen from the soldiers and pledged it would be returned to the military. They added that they intend to file a libel suit against the IDF Spokesman's Office, which reported the alleged incident.
Itai Zer, one of the founders of Havat Gilad, which is named after his brother, who was killed in a terror attack, told Ynet that the army's claims "are utter lies. There were two witnesses here – one of them the regional security officer and the other one a lawyer. They both say the helmet being taken from the soldier, but there were no threats made with a knife. Therefore, we intend to sue the IDF Spokesman's Office."
Zer said that five vehicles belonging to the outpost were pelted with stones while traveling on a nearby route earlier in the day. "In them were two woman holding children on their way back from summer camp in Yitzhar. One of the rocks smashed the windshield and wounded one of the women in her face, narrowly missing her baby. And all this happened near an IDF checkpoint. The army sees the rock-throwers and does nothing, since they're afraid to shoot. Because of the army's cowardly policies, our lives are in real danger," he said.
'Army must apologize for false report'
Earlier in the day the army said a settler seized an assault rifle from a soldier at the Adi-Ad outpost near the settlement of Shiloh and fired several rounds in the air. However after arresting the two men accused of being involved in the shooting incident, police determined that their lives had truly been in danger and that their car had sustained considerable damage from rocks thrown at them by Palestinian rioters. The two were released immediately thereafter.
The 'Homesh First' group said it expected the IDF to issue a formal apology for releasing the "negligent" report.
Palestinians say settlers set fire to fields
This is only the most recent in a series of violent incidents reported in the region on Thursday following the evacuation of a bus from the Adi-Ad outpost.
Settlers from Yitzhar lashed out against Palestinians and IDF troops, hurling rocks towards cars and vandalizing Palestinian property. They also, as reported above, seized the personal weapon of a soldier and fired rounds in the air.
In response to the claim regarding the rifle, the 'Homesh First' organization's headquarters said the man in question was an air-conditioning technician from Jerusalem who was heading from the settlement of Kedumim to Itamar. He was attacked by dozens of Palestinians who pelted his car with rocks and attempted to lynch him, Homesh First said, he then ran to a group of soldiers standing nearby who were doing nothing, took the weapon of a soldier, fired in the air and then gave it back.
The Palestinians claim however that during the day's clashes some 150 settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in the village of Borin, damaging crops and property. The Palestinians also said that the settlers had set fire to agricultural fields. "There is a full fledged pogrom against the (Palestinian) residents here," a local Palestinian farmer told Ynet, "and the IDF soldiers who see all this happen and are doing nothing."
The incident began when police officers from the Judea and Samaria District came to Yitzhar with the intent of demolishing a bus in which settlers were using to stay at Adi-Ad.
Following the operation, which was carried out without incident, several local settlers gathered at the scene and began hurling rocks at cars, damaging several.
Former Kdumin Council Head Daniela Weiss justified the settlers' activity. "It's clear that as far as the youngsters are concerned, if one outpost is damaged, they will respond in several places in Judea and Samaria, and this is what happened."
According to Weiss, "The army and police are planning to stop us from holding a five-day tour from Samaria to South Mount Hebron, because they don’t like it. They have decided to harass us and remove a vehicle from one of the hills where we planned to stay overnight. This won't help, and next week we'll embark on our trip in whatever way possible."
The Yesh Din human rights group said in response that "the security forces' helplessness when in comes to enforcing the law and dealing with violent settlers in facilitating the creation of a terror infrastructure in the West Bank."