Seven more suspects arrested in probe of West Bank bar mitzvah hike attack
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Seven more suspects arrested in probe of West Bank bar mitzvah hike attack

Arrests made in village of Qusra, where residents are accused of stoning group of Israeli trekkers, who responded with deadly fire

Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces following riots between Palestinians and a group of settlers traveling in the northern West Bank, on November 30, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces following riots between Palestinians and a group of settlers traveling in the northern West Bank, on November 30, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Security forces arrested seven suspects early Monday in the West Bank village of Qusra in connection with a stone-throwing attack on a group of Israeli settlers last month that resulted in a Palestinian man being shot dead by one of the Israelis.

Some of the suspects were wanted for involvement in the confrontation with the settlers, while others are accused of taking part in rioting that followed the deadly incident, or for incitement, the IDF said in a statement. At least 20 other suspects have already been arrested in the case.

On November 30, a group of several dozen Israeli youths, chaperoned by a pair of fathers, had embarked on a tour of the northern West Bank to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Elitzur Libman.

They departed the Migdalim settlement and continued past Qusra, southeast of Nablus. There, dozens of Palestinian residents began throwing rocks at them, according to the group.

One of the armed chaperones opened fire, killing 48-year-old Mahmoud Za’al Odeh.

Palestinians carry the body of Mahmoud Odeh during his funeral in the West Bank village of Qusra, near the West Bank city of Nablus on December 2, 2017. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The army said the hikers did not coordinate their trip ahead of time or get permission from the military to enter the area, as required by protocol.

The incident significantly raised tensions between settlers and local Palestinians.

Last week police said in a statement that an investigation into the clash has so far reinforced the claims of the settlers, who maintain that residents from Qusra launched an attack on them.

While police did not go as far as to say that the manslaughter charges would be dropped against the parent escorts, a spokeswoman for the Israel Police’s West Bank District said at the time she believed that would soon be the case.

The statement justified the chaperones’ actions, saying they indeed felt that the Palestinians “posed a danger to their lives along with the lives of the youths, and that the shooting was carried out in self-defense.

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