One member of a group of far-right activists who, after allegedly attempting to carry out a “price tag” attack, were beaten and held captive by Palestinians in the village of Qusra near Nablus, demanded Thursday that the government allow him and other settlers residing in illegal outposts to acquire weapons.
Meir Ettinger, a prominent activist who has been instrumental in the establishment of illegal outposts in the West Bank over the past few years, was held captive by Palestinian villagers on Tuesday for more than two hours, along with several other settlers who had been with him at the time of the alleged attempted “price tag” attack. The settlers, some of whom were beaten by their captors, were eventually handed over to the IDF.
Ettinger blamed the IDF for the incident, accusing army heads of deliberately withholding weapon permits from Israeli settlers. Ettinger is the grandson of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the slain founder of the Jewish Defense League and the outlawed far-right Israeli political party Kach.
“Sometimes there are also losses in a war, but our miracle was not due to the army but due to God,” Ettinger said in an interview with the Jewish Voice, a right-wing Internet site. “We acted with tremendous courage, but because of the conditions in the field, the numerical advantage of the Arabs around us and the negligence of the army, who won’t let us possess arms, we realized that the battle was lost, we suffered injuries and were trapped inside the house.”
Ettinger was barred in the past from entering the West Bank after he was accused of spying on IDF posts in an attempt to map out soldiers’ movements toward illegal outposts.
“I was hit in the head by a boulder when I was handcuffed, and that’s a situation where only God Almighty can help,” Ettinger continued.
“God has saved us; nothing here happened in a natural way, the army did not want to and could not have protected us,” he concluded.
Some 15 Israeli settlers approached Qusra early Tuesday afternoon, allegedly in an attempt to carry out an attack, in protest over the Israeli Civil Administration’s uprooting earlier in the day of a settler olive grove near the West Bank outpost of Esh Kodesh. The settlers, said to have come from the outpost, claimed later they were merely out hiking.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday praised the villagers for resisting their alleged Israeli attackers.
“Citizens of Qusra village, who were subjected to numerous assaults by settlers during the past months, acted in self defense,” PA spokesman Ihab Bseiso said Thursday. He praised the villagers for “defying” the settlers’ “aggressive acts.”
The village mukhtar, Abed Al-Ain Wasli, told Channel 2 that the villagers “could have killed” the settlers and buried their bodies in the hills, but spared their lives “because we are Muslims, we are responsible people… and because they are human beings even if they were hostile.”
AP contributed to this report.