Three young Israeli settlers were arrested on Saturday for hurling stones at security forces who were evacuating them from an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank.
IDF and Border Police forces responded with live shots in the air, as well as tear gas and other riot-dispersal means, the army said in a statement on Sunday, adding that soldiers had feared for their lives.
A group of settlers established the “Rosh Yosef” outpost on a hilltop adjacent to the settlement of Itamar in the northern West Bank three weeks ago. It had been razed several times in the past by security forces.
Roughly a dozen young settlers had intended to spend the Sabbath there, though the outpost only consisted of a small makeshift structure made out of wood.
The soldiers first arrived on Friday to evacuate the outpost, which the army said had been illegally built in a “dangerous area.” While the military said it dismantled the structure on Friday, the right-wing Honenu legal rights group maintained the Friday attempt had been “unsuccessful.”
On Saturday, the IDF said about ten young Israelis returned to the outpost, prompting forces to try to carry out arrests. It was then that the settlers began throwing rocks at them.
But Honenu said that the forces returned specifically to arrest one of the teens “for an unclear reason,” which is what prompted the violent clash.
The group accused the soldiers of shooting live fire close to the settlers’ heads, causing them to flee the scene. The three men who didn’t flee were detained.
“They shot right over our heads, one of us had to bend down to avoid the gunshots,” Honenu quoted one of the settlers as saying. “Soldiers shouted and cursed us in a disgraceful manner.”
The three detainees — a minor and two adults — were taken for questioning by police interrogators on suspicion of assaulting a public official and obstructing soldiers from carrying out their duties, police said in a statement.
They were to be brought before the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court on Sunday.