IDF nabs Palestinian policeman in Hebron, after twice failing to arrest him

Not clear why Firas Abu Aziza is wanted; bid to grab him three weeks ago ended in clashes with 250 Palestinians

Israeli border police on patrol in Hebron earlier this year. (photo credit:  Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israeli border police on patrol in Hebron earlier this year. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The IDF arrested a Palestinian policeman outside Hebron on Friday — finally catching a wanted man it had failed twice previously to arrest.

Firas Abu Aziza, 27, was detained at a checkpoint near Yatta, a village outside Hebron. It was not immediately clear why he had been sought.

Aziza had escaped the army’s first attempt to catch him. A second effort, in Hebron on December 6, ended in clashes with some 250 Palestinians during which an IDF soldier was punched in the face.

“The first time he [Aziza] was able to escape, the second time there were riots, and now the army captured him,” a local Palestinian resident told Maariv.

Palestinian security officials, who did not want to identify themselves, said Aziza was taken into custody in an unmarked (civilian) car. They  called on the IDF to release him immediately.

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In the December 6 incident, over 20 Palestinians were injured in the clashes surrounding the abortive arrest. Soldiers attempted to arrest Aziza, and other Palestinian policemen and civilians jumped into the fray and threw stones at the troops.

Finding themselves overwhelmingly outnumbered, the soldiers retreated while firing stun grenades, tear gas, and reportedly rubber bullets.

That incident took place in the Bab al-Zawiye neighborhood west of Hebron’s Old City. The neighborhood is in area H1, which is under full Palestinian control, though Israeli soldiers occasionally enter escorted by Palestinian forces.

The city, home to the Cave of the Patriarchs, is a frequent flashpoint of settler-Palestinian tension.

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