Two Minors From West Bank Settlement Arrested for Stoning Israeli Army Ambulance Two Weeks Ago

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The military ambulance after being pelted with stones at Yizhar settlement, West Bank, June 17, 2017.
The military ambulance after being pelted with stones at Yizhar settlement, West Bank, June 17, 2017.Credit: IDF Spokesman

Two minors from the settlement of Yitzhar near Nablus were arrested on Tuesday night for throwing rocks at an Israel Defense Forces ambulance two weeks earlier.

The ambulance had been summoned to help a sick woman on Saturday, June 17 and was hit by rocks allegedly thrown by the two juveniles, said the Judea and Samaria District of the Israel Police. No one was injured in the incident.

The two were brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, and the police asked to extend their detention. Judge Maya Av-Ganim Weinstein extended the detention of the two youths for another day, saying the defendants are suspected of the crime of throwing stones at a moving vehicle, intentionally damaging military and other property. These crimes may justify detention, but the judge said the evidence presented to her was only preliminary and even though there was reasonable suspicion against them, they are minors and the police can make do with holding them for only an additional 24 hours, she said.

Their lawyer said it was a case of false arrest of two young men, and the court made it clear as to how limited the suspicions are concerning their involvement. 

A third minor, who was arrested on suspicion of involvement in attacking security forces in Yitzhar earlier this week, was released by the court with restrictions on his movements.

The IDF says soldiers were attacked with rocks in the settlement at the beginning of the week while demolishing a structure built without a permit. Three settlers arrested at the time have since been released by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, which criticized the police for failing to investigate the suspects' actions properly at the time of the arrests.

After the June 17 stone-throwing incident, the Yitzhar secretariat condemned the incident, expressing its “absolute opposition” to such acts. Yitzhar residents say the stone-throwing youths are recent arrivals and not permanent residents in the community.

As to the attack on security forces this week, the Yitzhar secretariat denies such an incident occurred and accused the army of not telling the truth. Residents also claim the security forces used disproportionate violence against “passive resistance” of the eviction. The army insists that settlers threw stones at them in the incident.

Recently a number of youngsters who have been living intermittently in Baladim, an unauthorized outpost in the West Bank near Kokhav Hashahar that was evacuated by security forces in recent weeks, relocated to Yitzhar. Baladim was considered the headquarters of the most extreme Jewish settlers in the West Bank, with mobile homes housing dozens of people at any given time. The police had warned the residents of Yitzhar that people from Baladim might show up, which in fact they did.

Recent weeks have brought reports of settler attacks on Palestinians, left-wing activists and security forces, some in the area of Yitzhar and some were videotaped. No arrests have been made so far. At the same time, right—wing activists have reported a crackdown by police and security forces in recent weeks, particularly as concerns hate crimes.

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