State to indict fugitive settler who chained himself to machine to avoid arrest
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State to indict fugitive settler who chained himself to machine to avoid arrest

Neria Zarog to be charged with violating administrative order barring him from West Bank; defense slams ‘draconian’ policy

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

Neria Zarog attaches himself to a saw machine in Yitzhar to avoid arrest for violating an administrative order on November 10, 2019. (Honenu)
Neria Zarog attaches himself to a saw machine in Yitzhar to avoid arrest for violating an administrative order on November 10, 2019. (Honenu)

State prosecutors announced on Monday that they will file an indictment against a settler extremist who barricaded himself inside a home and cuffed himself to a contraption tied to the floor as police closed in on him for violating an order barring him from the West Bank.

The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of Neria Zarog until Tuesday at which point the prosecution said it would file an indictment against the 21-year-old resident of a hardline outpost neighborhood of Yitzhar.

It took police officers nearly five hours to arrest Zarog on Sunday evening, during which law enforcement clashed with local settlers. Three officers were lightly injured in the ensuing melee, as hundreds of young men “rioted and used severe violence, including throwing rocks, paint bottles and other objects” at the officers, police said in a statement. Damage was also caused to law enforcement vehicles. Three settlers were arrested during the mass altercation.

The Honenu legal aid organization, which is also representing Zarog, said that 15 protesters were injured and that police used excessive force in responding to the demonstration.

Neria Zarog, resident of the Jewish settlement of Itzhar, is brought to the Petah Tikvah Magistrate’s court after being arrested for violating a restraining order and barricading himself in an illegal house near the settlement in the West Bank, on November 11, 2019. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)

Zarog was also injured as police were trying to saw through his iron cuffs and accidentally nicked his leg. He spent the night in the hospital before being transferred to prison interrogation on Monday morning.

At the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court hearing hours later, the police representative told the presiding judge that Zarog had been openly violating for over a month an administrative order signed by the head of the IDF Central Command banning him from the northern West Bank for three months.

The officer said that Central Command head Nadav Padan had been made privy to intelligence that indicated Zarog posed a threat to Palestinians. The father-of-two is known as a hilltop youth, far-right youngsters who build and reside in illegal outposts and sometimes carry out so-called “price tag” attacks against Palestinians or their property.

The prosecution said it would indict Zarog for violating the order and preventing police officers from carrying out their duties when he barricaded himself in a Yitzhar home, requiring dozens of officers and extensive manpower to pry him free.

Neria Zarog (c) with his wife and children in front of their home in the Kumi Ori outpost, a neighborhood of the Yitzhar settlement in the northern West Bank. The IDF has issued an order barring him from the West Bank. (Avraham Shapira)

For their part, Zarog attorneys argued that their client has never been presented with the details of the allegations against him and had a right to refuse the “draconian” administrative order.

The order against Neria Zarog has been a catalyst to months of confrontations between local settlers and security forces. Zarog is a shepherd living in the illegal Kumi Ori outpost, a southern neighborhood of the Yitzhar settlement whose residents have clashed with Israel Defense Forces troops several times in the past.

According to a defense official who spoke to The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity, Zarog is a “violent extremist well-known to security forces” who has taken part in altercations against Palestinians as well as IDF troops.

Zarog claims he has not taken part in violent activities against Palestinians, but had been detained several times by Israeli security forces after approaching nearby villages with his flock.

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