Two Jewish Settlers Arrested for Suspected Hate Crimes Against Palestinians

The two are suspected of vandalizing Palestinian property in the area of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, which has been the site of several clashes over the past weeks

Yotam Berger
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Settlers throwing stones at Palestinians near Yizhar, May 19, 2019.
Settlers throwing stones at Palestinians near Yizhar, May 19, 2019.Credit: Asira al-Qibliya Council
Yotam Berger

Two Jewish settlers were arrested by police on Sunday over suspicion that they were involved in hate crimes against Palestinians. 

Police suspect the two, who live in the West Bank, carried out so-called price tag attacks against Palestinians. Jewish settlers usually carry out such attacks in order to pressure the Israeli government not to make concessions regarding settlement construction in the West Bank

In addition to the two, a minor was also detained in suspicion of participating in a settler attack on police officers on Saturday that was so severe officers had to call in backup to extract them

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Tires of a police vehicle that were slashed by settlers, May 25, 2019.
Tires of a police vehicle that were slashed by settlers, May 25, 2019.Credit: Police spokesperson

One of the suspects was arrested in the settlement of Yizhar, where settlers attacked police and slashed tires of police vehicles two days ago. The other suspect was arrested in Jerusalem. 

The two are suspected of damaging Palestinian properties due to a nationalistic motive. Police are expected to interrogate them regarding several incidents, and ask that their remand be extended. 

The area of the Yitzhar settlement has recently been the scene of various incidents. In the beginning of May, eight cars and four tracks were vandalized there and Hebrew-language graffiti was sprayed on a building in the Palestinian town of Huwara. Car tires had been slashed, and a Star of David was sprayed on a grave at a local cemetery. 

Over the weekend, police arrived to the outpost of Kippah Sruga near the Yizhar to halt clashes between settlers and Palestinians. Dozens of masked settlers began throwing stones and other objects at police and punctured the tires of their vehicles. Police were forced to call in backup to extract them from the situation.

The police did not arrest anyone on Saturday. In Yizhar, settlers claimed that police provoked them without cause and that a settler had been injured.

Last week, Israelis and Palestinians reported that a field was set ablaze and clashes in the Palestinian towns of Burin, Urief and Asira al-Qibliya.

In a video disseminated by Asira al-Qibliya’s council, settlers are seen throwing stones at Palestinians, while soldiers nearby do nothing to arrest them. In response to the video, the The Israeli army's spokesperson's unit  said that “Palestinians started a fire near Asira al-Qibliya. The army, Border Police and civilian volunteers worked to extinguish the fire, which was spreading towards a military position and the edge of Yitzhar.”

After a B’Tselem video surfaced, showing settlers setting fire to fields, the army revised its response and confirmed that Jewish settlers also took part in setting fires.