A high-profile trial touted as the “settler espionage” case, in which five young settler leaders were charged with monitoring the movements of IDF soldiers in the West Bank, concluded on Wednesday with a plea bargain.
Three of the suspects were sentenced to three to five months behind bars, while the others were ordered to do some 200 hours of community service.
The affair began in December 2011, after a group of right-wing activists gathered in various locations across the West Bank to protest against the demolition of an illegal outpost near the settlement of Yitzhar.
In one such protest, settlers infiltrated the Ephraim army base in order to prevent soldiers from participating in the evacuation. In the wake of the incident, security forces launched an investigation to find out how the settlers had come to know that the troops stationed in that base had been given the order to participate in the demolition.
Some two weeks later, police raided an apartment in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood and arrested several men for allegedly running a “war room” that tracked the movements of IDF soldiers in the West Bank and collated the information to anticipate actions against illegal outposts.
The suspects — Eliezer Meir and Akiva Hacohen of Yitzhar; and Meir Etinger, Efraim Haikin and David Eliyahu of Jerusalem — were charged with collecting sensitive military information and unauthorized entry into an army base.
Under the terms of the plea bargain, the three suspects who were given a jail term pleaded guilty to the count of collecting sensitive enemy information, while the other two, who received community service sentences, admitted to conspiracy to collect sensitive information.