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Cop involved in settler teen’s death arrested for allegedly obstructing probe

Officer reportedly gave interview to newspaper on events that led to death of Ahuvia Sandak; statement on behalf of cop says his arrest came as result of public pressure

Demonstrators holds placards showing Ahuvia Sandak as they protest against his death in a car crash during a police chase last week, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on December 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Demonstrators holds placards showing Ahuvia Sandak as they protest against his death in a car crash during a police chase last week, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on December 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A police officer involved in 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, was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of obstructing the investigation.

Sandak was killed in a crash on December 21 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 driver lost control of the vehicle and overturned, while settlers have claimed the crash was caused by a police car ramming the vehicle.

According to the Haaretz daily, the officer was arrested on suspicion of giving an anonymous interview to the Maariv newspaper, giving the police side of events. The officer denied the accusation.

A statement on behalf of the arrested officer released to Channel 13 news said that the detention was a “false arrest.”

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

“The PIID [Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department] is operating under public and media pressure and not due to the facts,” the statement read, suggesting that the detention was linked to the recent protest outside the home of the head of the PIID.

According to Haaretz, a second officer was questioned by the PIID on Saturday on suspicion of coordinating their version of the events that led to Sandak’s death with fellow officers.

Sandak’s family members have previously criticized the police, not only for the teen’s death but also for the investigation that followed.

Channel 12 news reported last week that 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.

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

Sandak’s death 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.

Hundreds of right-wing protesters demonstrated in Israel and the West Bank on Saturday night over his death. 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, including five at the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim.

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 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 a terror attack that has sparked weeks of tension.

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