Police arrest 3 settler minors for stoning ambulance, soldiers
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Police arrest 3 settler minors for stoning ambulance, soldiers

Authorities say they view the recent uptick in violence with utmost severity, vow to apprehend attackers

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

An army ambulance damaged by settlers in Yitzhar, June 17, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
An army ambulance damaged by settlers in Yitzhar, June 17, 2017. (IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

Police in the West Bank arrested two minors late Tuesday night for throwing rocks at an ambulance in the settlement of Yitzhar earlier this month.

Along with the pair, a third minor was arrested for throwing rocks at security forces in the same northern West Bank settlement this week.

The three — residents of Yitzhar, Jerusalem, and Ofra — were to be brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court for a hearing on Wednesday.

Responding to the recent uptick in violence from settler youth, police said in a statement Wednesday that “these incidents are being viewed with the utmost severity… The Israel Police will continue to act to capture and arrest those who disrupt public order, throw rocks and injure security forces.”

Residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar clash with security forces during a demolition of an illegal structure on June 25, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Residents of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar clash with security forces during a demolition of an illegal structure on June 25, 2017. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Yitzhar features prominently in the public perception of extremist “hilltop youth” — young people from religiously observant families who move to settlement outposts and resist soldiers’ attempts to evacuate them. Some of them have been accused in “price tag” hate crime attacks on Palestinian, Christian and Israeli targets.

Tensions between security forces and locals have ramped up in recent weeks over IDF orders banning extreme right-wing activists from the West Bank.

On Sunday, the IDF arrested three people during clashes surrounding the demolition of an illegal structure in Yitzhar. According to an army spokesperson, residents pelted soldiers carrying out the demolition with stones and blocked roads used by IDF troops during the operation.

Settlers also accosted and harassed soldiers, the spokesperson said, adding that those arrested were handed over to police for questioning.

In a separate incident on Sunday, dozens of uprooted olive trees were discovered outside the nearby Palestinian village of Burin, as well as Hebrew graffiti in the area reading “revenge.”

Following Sunday’s clashes, the Yitzhar leadership denied that residents acted violently toward soldiers, and accused the army of seeking to stoke tensions.

“[To our] great sorrow after two years of calm in which excellent relations were built between the settlement and the [regional IDF] Samaria Brigade, there is someone seeking to set the ground alight and produce, at any cost, pictures of a clash between Yitzhar settlers and soldiers,” the settlement’s leaders said in a statement.

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