Arab Passengers Attacked, 20 Arrested During Protest Against Killing of Israeli Teen in West Bank

Police say protesters threw stones and eggs at them at a protest against the death of Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed in a car chase with police in the West Bank

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Israel border police officers at the protests against the death of Ahuvia Sandak in Jerusalem, December 2020.
Israel border police officers at the protests against the death of Ahuvia Sandak in Jerusalem, December 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

About 20 demonstrators were arrested on Thursday night in Jerusalem, as widespread clashes erupted during protests over the death of Ahuvia Sandak, an Israeli teen who died in a car chase with police after being suspected of throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank.

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During the protests, police said participants hurled stones and eggs at officers and vandalized vehicles, including buses and police cars. Over the course of the night, ultra-Orthodox men were filmed attacking a car with an Arab driver and passengers, opening the door and attempting to beat the passengers.

Protesters blocked several main roads across the city, including the entrance to Jerusalem by the String Bridge, as well as obstructing the light rail. The protesters also ignited trash cans, and vandalized street lights. Police used several methods for dispersing the protesters, including water cannons. Two police officers were injured.

A witness to the attack on the Arab passengers said that the protesters checked every car they passed to see who was sitting inside, choosing to close in on cars with Arab passengers. The witness said the confrontation was not connected to the death of Ahuvia Sandak; the perpetrators took advantage of the tumultuous atmosphere in the city.

A video of the incident shows a few people surrounding the vehicle and hitting it, as well as opening the doors and trying to smash the windows. After about thirty seconds, the driver manages to exit the vehicle and escape the scene.

Sandak, 16, a resident of Bat Ayin in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc, was killed in a car chase with the police after he and his friends were suspected of throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank last Monday. Officers crashed into their car from behind, causing it to flip, fatally injuring Sandak and lightly to moderately injuring his friends.

Protesters have demonstrated on a daily basis since the Sandak's death at National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. The protesters, who blame the police for Sandak’s death, have attacked officers and thrown stones at Palestinians. In addition, police cars have been vandalized and there was an attempt to set a police station on fire. Dozens have been arrested.

Police and security sources have criticized policymakers for their silence on the protests, in which police say they face violence and threats from demonstrators. Security officials told Haaretz that the police are "losing control in the face of the violence of the hilltop youth group and Jewish extremists" in the West Bank.

Police officials have also slammed Public Security Minister Amir Ohana for paying a condolence call to the Sandak family home in the Bat Ayin settlement, saying that it undermines their response to the protests. Senior police officials have complained that police have not received support, and that several police officers have been attacked at right-wing demonstrations against the police over Sandak’s death.

A joint team of the Tel Aviv District Police Central Unit and the Justice Ministry unit to investigate police misconduct is continuing to examine the incident in which Sandak was killed. Police are investigating the four young people who were in the car with Sandak during the chase, and the Justice Ministry unit is questioning the four police officers who were in the police vehicle.

Two of the young men are suspected of reckless homicide, due to a suspicion that they tried to flee the scene of the accident while Sandak was still trapped under the car.

Over the past week in the West Bank, there have been over 20 incidents in which settlers have attacked Palestinians, most of which have involved stone-throwing at Palestinian motorists at highway junctions where demonstrations have been held. At two highway junctions, protesters also threw stones at Israeli security forces.

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