Settlers ram troops, assault Palestinians near Homesh, IDF alleges

No arrests announced after soldier attacked for trying to stop stone-throwing at Palestinians, Israeli car hits 2 troops manning checkpoint; Homesh yeshiva refutes allegations

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

People walk by the water tower on the ruins of Homesh, August 27, 2019. (Hillel Meir/Flash90)
People walk by the water tower on the ruins of Homesh, August 27, 2019. (Hillel Meir/Flash90)

An Israeli rammed his car into soldiers manning a West Bank checkpoint Monday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Two soldiers were hit by the car near the illegal outpost of Homesh but did not require hospitalization, according to the army, which described it as one of two recent “violent incidents” in the area.  It described the car as Israeli, likely meaning it had Israeli license plates.

The military did not say if the alleged assailant was arrested or if soldiers opened fire. Unlike in the case of similar attacks by Palestinians, it did not describe the incident as “terror.”

The incident came two days after settlers at Homesh attacked troops and soldiers, the army said Monday.

On Saturday night, a group of settlers arrived in a car at a military checkpoint near the outpost, and began hurling stones at Palestinian vehicles in the area, the IDF said.

Troops stationed at the checkpoint tried to stop the stone-throwing, and during the attempt, one soldier was assaulted by one of the settlers, the military said in a statement.

No arrests were announced in that incident either, but both alleged attacks were reported to police, the IDF said.

There has been a rise in settler violence in recent months, and soldiers are sometimes seen standing by as they occur. Soldiers are legally permitted — even required in some cases — to intervene to prevent violent attacks, regardless of nationality. The military generally prefers that police deal with the attacks and settler arrests, but police do not have as much of a presence in the West Bank.

Jewish settlers throw stones towards Palestinian homes, just after the funeral of Yehuda Dimentman, 25, who was killed in a shooting attack by a Palestinian gunman, in the West Bank village of Burqa, Friday, Dec. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Earlier this month, eight suspects — all students at a yeshiva in the illegal outpost — were arrested on suspicion of assaulting IDF soldiers and Palestinians in the northern West Bank in January. Six of them were sent to house arrest, and two were never brought before a court to extend their remand, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

The unauthorized settlement was officially dismantled in 2005, but a hardline yeshiva, or religious seminary, has continued to operate there on a daily basis, with no intervention by the army, in direct violation of Israeli law.

In December, one of the yeshiva’s students, Yehuda Dimentman, was shot dead in a terror attack just outside the site, as he was making his way home. The attack renewed public debate over Homesh, with some on the left in Israel calling for the military to enforce the closure of the site, while those on the right have argued for it to be legalized.

Responding to the military’s announcement Monday, the Homesh yeshiva said it was a “complete lie.”

“Lies and falsehood! A false campaign is being waged against the Homesh Yeshiva students! Spilling their blood since the murder of their friend!” it said, referring to Dimentman.

“No stone was thrown or, God forbid, no IDF soldier was run over. IDF soldiers are our brothers! Stop lying and this baseless hatred!” the yeshiva added.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog said in a report published in December last year that a majority — 63 percent — of settler attacks against Palestinians and troops in 2021 occurred near illegal outposts.

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