Six Settlers From Yitzhar Are Accused of Violence Against Police and IDF

Yitzhar spokesman says the settlement 'has won a number of libel suits against media groups and the Israel Police.'

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Settlers arrested in Yitzhar in the West Bank, April 30, 2013.Credit: Hadar Cohen
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Prosecutors have accused six settlers from Yitzhar of constructing a barrier against security forces and throwing stones at police – allegations that leaders of the settlement say are trumped up.

The Central District Prosecutor's Office cites "systemic and organized conduct of a violent and extreme nature" around the Yitzhar settlement and "serious violence against military and police forces and residents of the region."

The six are accused of deliberately endangering life on a road, assaulting a policeman under aggravated circumstances, interfering with a police officer and causing deliberate damage.

One incident took place last week at an outpost near Yitzhar called Hakipa Hasruga. A police source says the residents of Yitzhar and the nearby Palestinian village Burin frequently clash, and the area has been declared a closed military zone.

Last week, a police convoy waited for a stone-throwing attack; other police then emerged from a hiding place and arrested several stone throwers.

The indictment was filed in the Lod District Court against Reuven Cohen of Mitzpeh Yeriho, Yehoyada Sokhi of Sussia and four minors from Jerusalem and Yitzhar. All six live in Yitzhar and its outposts part of the time.

The indictment also noted that 10 days ago the commander of the Samaria Brigade, Col. Yoav Yarom, was traveling in a convoy near the settlement. Settlers blocked the way and threw stones. The next day two police vehicles encountered a stone-and-spike barrier. The police then were pelted by stones thrown by masked men at close range from a nearby hill.

According to the indictment, in a third incident last week, two police vehicles encountered a barrier strewn with burning tires. The six accused and 10 other people, including masked men, threw stones and damaged the vehicles.

Prosecutor Oded Keller requested that the suspects remain in custody for the duration of the proceedings, but Judge Varda Meroz ordered them to house arrest until the parole board sends expert opinions.

Keller wrote that the alleged "systematic and organized behavior of a violent and extreme nature is reflected in dozens of criminal incidents this year alone including the use of stones, tires and spikes by masked young men."

Attorney Adi Keidar, who is representing the accused on behalf of the Honenu legal aid organization, said it was unacceptable that the police "egg on teenagers to perpetrate crimes."

According to Yitzhar spokesman Avraham Binyamin, "The foolish attempt by the prosecutor's office to accuse all the residents of Yitzhar reflects a serious practice of introducing political opinions into the civil service." He said Yitzhar "has won a number of libel suits against media groups and the Israel Police after false accusations of violence."