Israeli man indicted for shooting, injuring 2 Palestinians in West Bank brawl

Eitan Ze’ev, 27, opened fire during July altercation near northern town of Biddya; settlement leaders say he acted in self-defense

Illustrative: Palestinian demonstrators wave flags during a protest in the West Bank town of Biddya on July 6, 2020. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP)
Illustrative: Palestinian demonstrators wave flags during a protest in the West Bank town of Biddya on July 6, 2020. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH/AFP)

A Israeli man was indicted Sunday on charges of aggravated assault after he allegedly shot two Palestinians during a mass brawl between Israelis and Palestinians in the northern West Bank on July 5.

The two Palestinians were moderately wounded and four Israelis were lightly hurt in the brawl at the Dorot Illit Farm near the Palestinian town of Biddya.

The suspect, Eitan Ze’ev, is a farmer from the nearby settlement of Dolev.

Dozens of supporters protested his indictment Sunday outside the Lod District Court, insisting he had fired in self-defense at a Palestinian “lynch mob.”

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers seen during clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters on August 28, 2015, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh near Ramallah. (Flash90)

The Israeli farmers have told officials that they were farming a plot in the area, when dozens of Palestinian vehicles pulled up to the plot.

A military inquiry cited by the Ynet news site found that mosque officials in Biddya had called for Palestinians to head to the site and prevent “theft” of the farmland by the Israelis.

The two narratives are mirror images of each other. Each side has told officials they were peacefully farming at the site when the other side arrived and tried to violently drive them away.

Local settlement leaders from the area have defended Ze’ev vociferously.

Samaria Regional Council leader Yossi Dagan at a protest tent of settler leaders outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, February 4, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The 27-year-old received a “certificate of appreciation” on Thursday from Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.

“We’re giving thanks to dear people who protected the lives of others and of themselves in the face of barbaric, murderous rioters who tried to lynch Jews in Samaria,” said Dagan at the certificate ceremony.

“Terror victims are turned into defendants,” Dagan said.

In his testimony to police, the local military commander, Col. Iftach Norkin, said he’d known Ze’ev for years, and considered him “a quiet, ethical and moral man…. He and his employees, from my interactions with them, have avoided altercations with their Palestinian neighbors.”

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