Settlement security officers announce strike after arrest of colleague

Security coordinator of illegal outpost accused of obstruction of justice after Jewish extremists slash tires in neighboring Palestinian village

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: Evening falls over the illegal West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, on August 26, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative: Evening falls over the illegal West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, on August 26, 2009. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Dozens of local security officers responsible for coordinating the protection of West Bank settlements with the Israeli military announced Wednesday they would be going on strike, after their colleague was arrested on suspicion of involvement in a hate crime.

The incident began when several cars had their tires slashed in the Palestinian village of Fara’ata in the northern West Bank, near the illegal Havat Gilad outpost, overnight Monday.

According to Kan news, the security coordinator of Havat Gilad was arrested for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit a crime, after security camera footage showed him throwing away a bag that had been used by Jewish extremists in the anti-Arab vandalism. Footage showed one of the suspects was carrying a red backpack, which was later thrown to the side of a road by the security officer.

During the man’s court hearing Wednesday, Samaria Regional Brigade commander Col. Roy Zweig defended him, saying he “was the one who reported the incident to the IDF. In past cases, he has acted to prevent such things. He saves the lives of the residents every night.”

But the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge ruled that “there was reasonable doubt the suspect committed the offenses attributed to him,” and extended his remand until Friday.

Another guard was also detained, but his remand was not extended, the network said.

In response, a group representing security coordinators said “police took the opportunity to harm a civilian security man, and yesterday our friend… was taken for questioning and arrested like some criminal.”

Over 40 security coordinators signed the statement, which concluded by saying they were going on strike, and would “immediately cut off all contact with the army and police until further notice!!!”

Incidents of vandalism against Palestinians and Israeli security forces are commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks, with perpetrators claiming that they are retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies seen as hostile to the settler movement.

Arrests of perpetrators are exceedingly rare and rights groups lament that convictions are even more unusual, with the majority of charges in such cases being dropped.

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