IDF arrests 10 in stone-throwing attack

Palestinians renew assault on Israeli vehicles Friday, settlers report; IDF commander calls attack that injured six ‘popular terrorism’

Police inspect the damage to a car that collided with a truck after Palestinians hurled rocks at the car, Thursday, March 14. (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)
Police inspect the damage to a car that collided with a truck after Palestinians hurled rocks at the car, Thursday, March 14. (photo credit: image capture Channel 2)

The IDF arrested 10 Palestinians overnight Thursday on suspicion of involvement in stone-throwing that caused a major accident near the West Bank settlement of Ariel. The attack left a toddler fighting for her life on Thursday evening.

On Friday morning, four Palestinians were spotted once again throwing stones at Israeli vehicles near the site of Thursday’s accident, according to local residents. There were no injuries or damage reported.

The overnight arrests were a joint effort by the military’s Efraim Brigade, the Shin Bet and police.

Six people were injured, one critically, after stones thrown by Palestinians caused a car to collide with a truck on Thursday evening.

Yakir resident Adva Bitton and her 3 daughters — aged 2, 4 and 6 — were injured in the crash. The 2-year-old’s condition was described as critical. The truck driver and a bus driver, who was also on the scene, were both lightly injured.

Police, paramedics and firefighting crews were dispatched to the scene to treat the wounded. The mother needed to be extracted from the vehicle, which was crushed under the back of the truck.

The injured were transferred to Tel Hashomer and Beilinson hospitals for treatment.

Eyewitnesses said the accident occurred after the woman lost control of her car because of rocks thrown at her.

“This is a terror attack like any other,” a senior IDF source told Channel 10 News. “The rocks were thrown by Palestinians from one of the nearby villages. We have seen a 50-percent upsurge in rock-throwing incidents since the announcement of [US President Barack] Obama’s visit to the country,” the source added.

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Commander of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division Brig. Gen. Hagai Mordechai visited the Bittons at both hospitals on Friday. He referred to Thursday’s incident as an act of “popular terrorism.”

“We define the phenomenon of stone-throwing as ‘popular terrorism’  and will act accordingly in all professional, tactical and intelligence aspects. We will conduct the investigation and arrest those responsible,” he told the family.

In a separate incident Thursday, a man and a 10-month-old infant were lightly injured by stones thrown by Palestinian activists. Later Thursday night, a man was lightly injured when rocks were thrown at a bus in Jerusalem’s French Hill.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem district police decided to restrict entrance of Palestinians into the Old City’s Temple Mount compound for Friday prayers, after receiving intelligence that some worshippers planned to create disturbances. For men, only those aged 50 or over were to be given access to the site. Thousands of police officers will be deployed around the Old City and in East Jerusalem. Clashes have erupted there on the past two Fridays.

Defense establishment sources said that the financial crisis currently afflicting the Palestinian Authority, “Price Tag” attacks by Jewish extremists, and hunger strikes by Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons have all contributed to the unrest in the West Bank and increased fears of an upsurge in violence. However, the chances that the situation would escalate into a third Palestinian uprising are low, a senior official told Israel Radio.

“Stones kill,” said Jewish Home party head Naftali Bennett in response to the Ariel incident Thursday night. “Some treat the hurling of rocks lightly, and are against taking serious action against it. But those throwing stones aim to kill and should be dealt with accordingly.”

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman expressed hope that incoming defense minister Moshe Ya’alon would “finally change the military’s rules of engagement” and make rock-throwers subject to the same treatment as those who fire live ammunition. “Such a change will prevent Israeli soldiers and civilians from being targets for Arab outlaws and prevent tragedies like the one that befell an innocent family this evening,” Liberman said.

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