A man from a West Bank settlement outpost who landed his helicopter at an army checkpoint without a permit was arrested by Israel’s Border Police on Sunday.
Yedidya Meshulami told investigators that he sought to take control of the Qalandiyah checkpoint, which is on the road to Jerusalem. “I don’t care what they do to me, I’ll take it over,” he said.
Border Police officers arrested Meshulami in part because they feared that Palestinians near the checkpoint might stone him.
A former Israel Air Force pilot whose pilot’s license was revoked, Meshulami lives in Alumot, an outpost near the settlement of Itamar that he helped establish after coming to live in the area in 1996. He built an airstrip there several years ago that drew the attention of media outlets and Israeli authorities.
In the course of questioning Meshulami after his arrest, investigators learned that this month he landed his helicopter at Atarot Airport, located between Jerusalem and Ramallah and currently not in use. He was detained for questioning and released.
After his arrest this week, the helicopter was seized and towed to a nearby Border Police base. Meshulami was freed Tuesday morning, subject to restrictions.
Meshulami lost his pilot’s license for flying over the West Bank without a permit. In the air force, he piloted a transport helicopter, in which capacity he took place in special operations and also transported the chief of staff.