Settler Suspected of Assaulting Military Commander in Demo Over Teen's Death

Resident of a West Bank outpost said to have punched the commander during the latest protest over the death of a 16-year-old settler, suspected of throwing stones at Palestinians, in police chase

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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A protester holds a poster with a picture of Ahuvia Sandak in Jerusalem, December 30, 2020. The subject has no connection to the content of the article.
A protester holds a poster with a picture of Ahuvia Sandak in Jerusalem, December 30, 2020. The subject has no connection to the content of the article.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

The commander of the Israeli military’s Golani reconnaissance battalion was assaulted by a West Bank settler on Saturday, during protests over the death of a teenager killed in a police chase, according to the police complaint filed by Lt. Gen. Ayoub Kayouf.

Witnesses said that the suspect, a 45-year-old resident of an illegal West Bank outpost, punched the commander’s head and then soldiers overpowered him.

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According to the witnesses, the demonstration in the West Bank saw protesters blocking the road and allowing only Jewish drivers to drive through, while blocking Palestinian drivers.

The suspect denied committing the attack, telling Haaretz that he had been watching the protest when he saw a soldier kneeling next to a girl sitting on the road and touching her near her chest. The army denied "any accusation of sexual assault" and insisted "the forces operated as required of them."

Settlers protest the death of West Bank teenager in police car chase. Credit: TAZPIT

The suspect said the soldier shoved him when he confronted him verbally, and that when he pushed the soldier’s arm away he was tackled by soldiers, who beat him up. He further said that he had been wounded during the incident and would demand an investigation into his treatment. 

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi condemned the attack, which came a day after the same battalion intervened when settlers blocked a Palestinian ambulance on its way to a hospital. Defense Minister Benny Gantz, formerly the military chief of staff , also condemned the attack and said, “We will not accept any act of terror or violence toward civilians or soldiers ... The violence we have recently been encountering will be dealt with severely.”

The protest on Saturday night was the latest in a series of demonstrations over 16-year-old Ahuvia Sandak, a 16-year-old resident of an unauthorized outpost in the West Bank who was killed last month after a vehicle pursuit by police of him and his friends, who were suspected of throwing stones at Palestinians in the West Bank. Officers crashed into their car from behind, causing it to flip, which fatally injured Sandak and lightly to moderately injured the others in the car with him.

The four other people in the car are suspected of reckless homicide, after it emerged that they fled the scene of the accident while Sandak was still trapped under the car.

Since Sandak’s death, right-wing protestshave taken place regularly outside National Police Headquarters in Jerusalem and throughout Israel and the West Bank. Some of them have turned violent, with demonstrators throwing stones, attacking Arab passersby and assaulting police.

Also on Saturday, the Justice Ministry unit that investigates police misconduct arrested one of the officers involved in the incident that killed Sandak. The officer is suspected of obstructing the investigation by speaking to a reporter, who published his version of the events in which Sandak was killed.

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