Suspect Arrested in Attack on Rabbis For Human Rights Chief

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Screengrab from video of a settler trying to attack head of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Arik Ascherman, with a knife near settlement of Itamar in West Bank. October 23, 2015.Credit: YouTube

A 17-year-old from the West Bank settlement of Itamar was arrested this weekend on suspicion of assaulting Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the president of Rabbis for Human Rights, two weeks ago. A video clip, showing an assailant brandishing a knife at Ascherman and hitting him near an outpost near Itamar, was viewed widely. 

The suspect, who is known to the police from involvement in previous incidents, confessed to the assault and reenacted it. A court ordered him held for an additional three days.

A search of his house after he was arrested turned up a knife like that seen in a video clip of the attack, a face mask, a military stun grenade, bullets and a slingshot. 

The teen’s attorney, Itamar Ben-Gvir, questioned the validity of his client’s confession, since it was made before he was allowed to consult a lawyer.

Ben-Gvir also termed it “regrettable that at a time of attacks on settlers,” the police unit in charge of anti-Arab hate crimes “is dealing with a case in which a leftist provocateur was provoking settlers and inciting Arabs to commit attacks, and instead of keeping him away, it’s harassing the Jews.” 

The attack on Ascherman occurred on October 23, while he was accompanying Palestinians who were harvesting their olives near Itamar. The video clip shows a masked assailant beating him, throwing a rock at him and brandishing a knife at him. The assailant then fled the scene.

Ascherman said the harvest had been coordinated with the Israeli security services. As he was heading toward the site, which was close to an outpost near Itamar, he continued, he saw Israelis stealing olives from the grove, while a Palestinian who was with him saw another person torch some olives trees. Ascherman began walking toward the man whom he claims torched the trees, and that is when the assault took place, he said.

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