Head of Hebron observer group summoned by PM over slashing of settler’s tires
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Head of Hebron observer group summoned by PM over slashing of settler’s tires

Foreign Ministry meeting called days after one TIPH worker expelled from Israel for slapping Jewish child and another flees country as police investigate alleged vandalism

A international observer for TIPH suspected of slashing the tires of an Israeli settler in Hebron. (Hadashot news screenshot)
A international observer for TIPH suspected of slashing the tires of an Israeli settler in Hebron. (Hadashot news screenshot)

The head of the TIPH West Bank observer group was summoned Tuesday for a meeting at Israel’s Foreign Ministry over reports that a member of the international mission was filmed slashing the tires of a Jewish settler in Hebron.

Einar Johnsen, who leads the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, was called for the meeting at the request of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister, a brief statement from the Foreign Ministry said.

TIPH is an international civilian observer group tasked with “monitoring and reporting efforts to maintain normal life in the city of Hebron, thus creating a sense of security among the Palestinians in Hebron.” It also reports alleged human rights abuses and violations of accords in the city between Israel and Palestinians. Observers for the group come from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey.

The meeting will focus on “recent egregious events in which TIPH members were involved,” the Foreign Ministry statement added.

Hadashot TV news reported Monday that the latest incident began with a Jewish resident filing a complaint with police after the tires of his car were slashed. An investigation was launched and police obtained security camera footage in which a uniformed member of TIPH was seen passing by the car several times and crouching by its tires.

Israeli security forces guard settlers as they enter the Palestinian side of the West Bank city of Hebron to visit the tomb of Othniel Ben Kenaz, on April 5, 2015. (Photo credit: Hazem Bader/AFP)

Police contacted TIPH, which said it would conduct an internal probe. When police contacted TIPH again after several days to say they wished to question the man, they were told he had left the country after the first call, the report said.

Earlier this month another TIPH member, a Swiss man, was expelled from the country after video emerged of him slapping a young Jewish boy across the face, sending his skullcap flying.

Following the airing of the footage, Switzerland’s ambassador to Israel apologized to leaders of the settlement community in Hebron.

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