A left-wing activist was arrested in the West Bank this week for unlawfully entering an army firing zone, but the same area has been home to unauthorized outpost Shirat Ha’asavim for years and none of the residents have ever been detained for entering a firing zone.
The activist, Guy Hirschfeld, 51, has been released on bail of 3,000 shekels [$826]. On Thursday the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court rejected an appeal by the police to keep him from the area in the northern Jordan Valley region of the West Bank.
Hirschfeld is a member of the Ta’ayush Arab-Jewish partnership group. He entered the firing zone Wednesday with Palestinian shepherds; it is illegal to enter a firing zone, though this law largely goes unenforced in the West Bank.
A judge at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court, Ophir Katavii-Rivlin, said there was "reasonable suspicion" that Hirschfeld committed an illegal act, ordering him also to commit to answering any summonses issued for an investigation.
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An aerial view of the outpost shows that some of its structures are within the firing zone. Shirat Ha’asavim is one of a few West Bank outposts on land where entry is banned to the public.
“It appears that the army and police seek to more firmly establish the illegal outposts in the territories and only selectively enforce the law, exploiting the law to detain and arrest to keep away anyone who comes to the defense of Palestinian shepherds against violent settlers,” Hirschfeld’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, told Haaretz.
“Meanwhile, settlers are permitted to blatantly and constantly violate the law.”
As Lasky put it, “The court ruled that there were no grounds to the police’s request to keep Hirschfeld out of the territories. I hope this means the police will now stop harassing him.”
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said that “the decision to evacuate outposts is made based on operational considerations and priorities set according to the instructions of the government.”