A relative of former Kach Chairman, Rabbi Meir Kahane, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of torching a mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf about three weeks ago. He was detained at around 12 pm by the Judea and Samaria Police at the Tapuach Junction.
The suspect was taken in for questioning. Sources close to him told Ynet, "We hope the Shin Bet and police won't treat him like settlers have been treated recently."
Abdel Rahim Muslah, head of the Yasuf village council, expressed his satisfaction with the move. "The news about the arrest is positive," he said, "and I hope the development will help calm things down and that the culprit will be punished. If the report is true, I highly appreciate the quick Israeli response and action."
Ghassan Dargeles, the Palestinian official responsible for settlements in the West Bank, says he hopes the arrest of Rabbi Meir Kahane's relative "will end this affair and will mark the beginning of handling the settlers".
"This affair has enraged the Palestinian street and I hope the arrest, together with a real Israeli effort to reach the truth, will lead to the prosecution of those responsible and calm down the Palestinian street."
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.
Mosque following arson (Photo: AP)
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."
Suspect denies involvement
Attorney Yehuda Shushan, representing the suspect told Ynet that his client – a minor – adamantly denies all the allegations against him, adding that he was "traumatized by the arrest."
According to the Shushan, the youth was arrested while driving near the Tapuach Junction. He did not resist arrest and during the initial investigation, was told that he was suspected of arson.
"The investigators kept telling him that they know what they know based on intelligence, saying 'we know you didn’t do it, but we know you know who did, so just tell us who did it,'" said Shushan.
The youth denied any connection to the arson and according to his attorney provided an alibi, after which he invoked his right to remain silent.
Shushan claimed his client was denied his rights as a minor in police custody, i.e. – having an adult family member present during questioning.
"The police would be better spending their time tracking down the real suspects, instead of arresting a minor who has nothing to do with this. I hope they right this wrong and release him before he is arraigned."
Kahane's son killed in terror attack
Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane, Rabbi Kahane's son, was killed in a shooting attack near Ramallah in December 2000, along with his wife.
Palestinians lying on the side of road opened fire at the family vehicle from several weapons. One of the couple's' daughters, who was four years old at the time, was seriously injured. Her four sisters sustained light to moderate wounds. Another child got off the vehicle shortly before the deadly attack.
Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane died immediately, and his wife Talia was evacuated to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem, where she dies of her wounds.
Binyamin Kahane's stand was more violent and firm than his fathers. He had preached for a popular revolt and his Kahane Chai party was disqualified in the 1992 Knesset elections for inciting violence.
He had called for violent patrols in Arab villages and for acts of intimidation and deterrence. "They should know who is in charge here. I promise that when the Arabs go wild or riot, they will get a direct response from us. We'll get them," he had said.
Ali Waked and Ronen Medzini contributed to this report