Eight Settlers Arrested for Attacking Soldiers, Palestinians Near Illegal West Bank Outpost

Israel Police suspect the eight punched and hit victims after a military force prevented them from passing a checkpoint to enter an illegal outpost last month

The attack in Homesh, about a month ago.
The attack in Homesh, about a month ago.

Eight Israeli settlers were arrested Wednesday over an attack on soldiers and Palestinians last month in the northern West Bank.

The police suspect that they arrived at the Shavei Shomron checkpoint in an attempt to enter the nearby illegal outpost of Homesh. After soldiers refused to let them pass, the eight allegedly started shoving and attacking soldiers and Palestinians in the checkpoint's vicinity. A video footage of the incident shows settlers throwing stones at a Palestinian taxi.

The taxi driver who was attacked, Hani Abu Omar, told Haaretz that he had been ambushed by a group of about 15 settlers while driving with his passengers. They threw stones at the car, causing minor damage, and sprayed pepper spray into an open window.

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Last month, the government announced that the yeshiva in Homesh would only be removed on the decision of Defense Minister Benny Gantz and on an assessment of the situation. It refused to set a date.

The village of Iskaka in the Salfit district, Wednesday morning.Credit: Salfit District Spokesman in the Palestinian Authority

Meanwhile, Palestinian landowners petitioned the High Court of Justice to prevent building in Homesh and Israelis from entering the area. In response, the state added that it currently allows Israelis learning at the yeshiva to arrive there. This policy violates the Disengagement Law, which forbids Israelis from entering the former settlement. Despite the law, settlers have regularly been occupying Homesh.

In January, the army allowed 1,200 people to bypass the barriers and hold a festive Tu B’shvat meal in Homesh, despite the road leading to it being a closed military zone and the Disengagement Law. The participants walked around the barricades, filmed themselves doing so and uploaded the video on social networks.

The head of the Shomron Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, strongly condemned the arrest of the yeshiva students, calling it "shocking," and demanded the boys' immediate release.

Dagan also accused the IDF and defense ministry of waging a political campaign to evacuate the yeshiva, saying "The arrest and destruction that followed is a transparent attempt to carry out a cynical and ugly campaign on the backs of students of the Homesh yeshiva, and to try to infect them with acts of violence in order to evacuate the yeshiva, which has been operating for 15 years."

Also Wednesday, Palestinians and human rights organization Yesh Din reported that settlers had entered the West Bank village of Iskaka and slashed the tires of 11 cars late on Tuesday.

Graffiti spray-painted on houses in the village of Iskaka, Wednesday morning.Credit: Salfit District Spokesman in the Palestinian Authority

The settlers also reportedly sprayed hate graffiti and a Star of David on the vehicles and some houses in the village. Offensive graffiti was also sprayed on the local sports club. The inscriptions "Here live enemies," "The people of Israel live" and "Fight the enemy and not the lover" were sprayed on village houses.

The villagers reported the incident to the Palestinian liaison administration.

The head of the local council, Osama Daher, told Haaretz it was not the first time such an incident had occurred. “There have been many incidents of attacks by settlers and damage to Palestinian property in recent years,” he said.

Yesh Din denounced the incident and called for government and police bodies to take responsibility for the ongoing issue of settler attacks. "Incessant rioting, attacks and violence by settlers inside Palestinian villages is the responsibility of the Israeli government, the prosecutor's office and the police," the organization said.

"The rioters know that they are almost completely immune and encouraged. This apartheid reality must be changed."

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