Security forces arrested five Palestinians overnight Sunday on suspicion they were involved in a violent clash at the end of last week during which an Israeli settler fatally shot a Palestinian.
The five were apprehended in the West Bank Palestinian town of Burqa, which lies close to where the Friday night confrontation took place. A police spokeswoman said two minors were among the detainees.
The Israeli Walla outlet reported the five are a father and his four sons, and that Palestinians claim that the father was also injured by gunfire in the incident.
The alleged Israeli shooter was seriously injured in the head by a rock thrown by Palestinians.
Previously, the only people arrested were two Israeli settlers, Elisha Yered, a former spokesman for the far-right Otzma Yehudit party’s MK Limor Son Har-Melech, and Yehiel Indore.
Indore is believed to be the person who shot 19-year-old Qusai Jamal Matan. Yered is suspected of obstructing the investigation into the shooting. A court has extended the pair’s remand until Wednesday. Indore remains under police guard in a Jerusalem hospital, where he is being treated for his injury.
While the settlers claim they acted in self-defense as they were being pelted with rocks thrown by Palestinians, the Kan public broadcaster cited defense officials Sunday as saying that the pair’s behavior did not line up with the situation they claim to have found themselves in. As soon as the clash began they should have alerted security forces, but instead they called for their comrades to join them, sources said.
It was only some two hours later, after the fatal shooting, that the incident was reported to the district security command center. Police and security forces arrived 25 minutes later.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has backed the settlers, saying Sunday that Indore should be given “a medal of honor” for shooting Matan.
Ben Gvir, the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party whose ministry oversees policing, demanded that police “expedite the investigation and also hold a comprehensive probe of all the Arab attackers who threw rocks and tried to murder Jews.”
Matan was fatally shot in the neck outside Burqa, close to Ramallah, on private Palestinian land, according to Palestinian health officials and Israeli defense sources. He was buried on Saturday. According to the PA’s official Wafa news agency, the clashes broke out after settlers attacked the village, leading residents to confront them.
The right-wing legal aid group Honenu said “dozens of Arab attackers” on Friday targeted a Jewish shepherd and others who had come from the illegal Oz Zion outpost to help them, with the Palestinians using rocks, clubs, and fireworks.
Honenu said the main suspect — later identified as Indore — was seriously hurt after being struck in the head by a rock thrown at him, and that he had undergone head surgery and was suffering from a fractured skull and intracerebral hemorrhage.
Yered is a resident of the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron; Indore lives in the Ofra settlement.
The IDF said that according to witnesses, clashes erupted adjacent to Burqa after settlers from a nearby outpost herded sheep in the area. Palestinians from the town approached the settlers to push them out from their lands, when a verbal confrontation erupted. At one point, both sides began hurling stones at each other, the IDF said, adding that Palestinians also launched fireworks.
“During the confrontation, Israeli civilians shot toward the Palestinians. As a result of the confrontation, a Palestinian was killed, four others were injured, and a Palestinian vehicle was found burnt,” the IDF said in a statement Saturday.
On Sunday, a group of former police chiefs and senior officers sent a letter to Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar expressing concern that Ben Gvir, a staunch supporter of the settlement movement, is seeking to “taint” the investigation into the incident.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.