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10 arrested at rallies over teen’s death; settler violence reported in West Bank

Hundreds demonstrate over death of Ahuvia Sandak during police chase last month; some block roads, throw rocks at Palestinian cars, rights group says

Police clash with protesters during a protest over the death Ahuvia Sandak in a car crash during a police chase, outside the home of Ministre of Public Security Amir Ohana in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Police clash with protesters during a protest over the death Ahuvia Sandak in a car crash during a police chase, outside the home of Ministre of Public Security Amir Ohana in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Hundreds of right-wing protesters demonstrated in Israel and the West Bank on Saturday night over the death of Ahuvia Sandak, a 16-year-old killed in a car crash last month while fleeing from police after allegedly throwing rocks at Palestinians.

Numerous instances of violence were reported, with the Yesh Din rights group saying settlers blocked a number of roads in the West Bank and threw rocks at Palestinian cars. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

In Jerusalem, demonstrators at the Chords Bridge shattered the windows of a bus that passed by, according to the Walla news site.

Ten protesters were arrested at various locations, according to Hebrew media reports.

People protest over the death of Ahuvia Sandak in a car crash during a police chase, near the Police Internal Investigations Department in Jerusalem on January 2, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Sandak’s death on December 21 has ignited near-nightly protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Demonstrators have thrown stones, attacked buses, vandalized cars and blocked major thoroughfares. Some have also attacked Arab civilians. In turn, police have responded forcefully, with reports of police violence toward demonstrators.

Sandak was killed in a crash as police chased his car, after he and four others allegedly hurled rocks at Palestinian vehicles and attempted to flee from the cops. Police have said the five young men’s vehicle lost control and overturned, while settlers have claimed the crash was caused by a police car ramming the vehicle.

Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed when his car flipped over while being chased by police in the West Bank on December 21, 2020. (Courtesy)

Hundreds of arrests have taken place at demonstrations so far, according to statements released by police last week. No clear number has been given for people charged with violence at the rallies.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department has questioned the officers involved in the incident. But Channel 12 reported last Saturday that they are not expected to face criminal charges. The network said the four other so-called hilltop youth extremists who were in the car with Sandak are expected to be charged for throwing rocks at Palestinian cars, and at least one of them may also be indicted for negligent homicide in Sandak’s death.

The deadly car crash came hours after an Israeli woman, Esther Horgen, was found dead in a northern West Bank forest where she had gone for a run a day earlier in an apparent terror attack. Horgen’s murder sparked several days of tension in the West Bank. Military sources told the Walla news site that they feared Horgen’s death could spark a series of revenge attacks by the settler youth on Palestinians and further inflame the already tense situation in the West Bank.

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