Far-right extremists injure 2 Border Police cops in flashpoint West Bank outpost

Rioter arrested after hilltop youth tried to rebuild his home in Kumi Ori near Yitzhar, sought to violently prevent troops from reaching area; settlers allege police violence

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Far-right activists clash with Border Police at the Kumi Ori outpost near Yitzhar in the West Bank on July 10, 2020. (Border Police)
Far-right activists clash with Border Police at the Kumi Ori outpost near Yitzhar in the West Bank on July 10, 2020. (Border Police)

Two Border Police officers were mildly injured in clashes with a group of ultra-nationalist “hilltop youth” settlers at a flashpoint outpost in the northern West Bank early Friday morning.

One of the Israeli rioters was arrested for pepper-spraying troops.

Some 30 Israeli teens arrived at the Kumi Ori outpost just outside the Yitzhar settlement before dawn on Friday in order to rebuild a home that security forces demolished last April, Border Police said in a statement.

Officers were dispatched to the area to enforce a long-standing closed military zone. The rioters sought to prevent the border police from reaching the outpost, establishing makeshift road blocks with burnt tires, and throwing objects at the troops, law enforcement said.

A Border Police officer injured during clashes with far-right activists at the Kumi Ori outpost near Yitzhar in the West Bank on July 10, 2020. (Border Police)

When the officers arrived at the wooden cabin being rebuilt by the far-right activists, they encountered further violence, which included punches and the use of pepper spray against them, the Border Police statement said, adding that two officers suffered mild injuries as a result and were taken from the area to receive medical treatment.

After overpowering the rioters, the police took down the building that was being established and took one of the activists into custody. The suspect was Neria Zarog, a resident of Kumi Ori whose home the group of young extremists were trying to rebuild.

A spokesman for the Yitzhar settlement, which has long identified with the flashpoint outpost, said in a statement that Border Police used excessive force against the locals and that some of the officers arrived at the scene in plain clothes, without masks and without identifying themselves. However, he also spoke out against the hurling of stones at law enforcement.

Zarog is a known figure to security forces and has inspired attacks against Palestinians and Israeli forces alike, according to a security official who spoke to The Times of Israel last year.

He rebuilt his home almost immediately after it was razed for its lack of permits in January and was arrested when it was again razed in April.

A closed military zone was put in place in Kumi Ori last October following a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and security forces perpetrated by a number of young settlers from the area.

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