Suspect, 16, dies in police chase of settlers who threw rocks at Palestinians

Fatality named as Ahuvia Sandak; 4 others injured when their car rolls over during police pursuit; legal aid group claims law enforcement bumped suspects from behind, causing crash

A vehicle belonging to hilltop youth that crashed while under police pursuit in the northern West Bank on December 21, 2020. (United Hatzalah)
A vehicle belonging to hilltop youth that crashed while under police pursuit in the northern West Bank on December 21, 2020. (United Hatzalah)

A young settler was killed in a car crash Monday when he and others tried to flee police after allegedly throwing rocks at Palestinians in the central West Bank, police said.

The vehicle belonging to so-called hilltop youth flipped over near the Michmash Junction, killing an 16-year-old and injuring four other people. The suspects were apprehended and taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in Jerusalem with light to moderate injuries.

The deceased was later identified as Ahuvia Sandak, from the southern West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin.

Police said officers signaled for the vehicle to halt after catching the young men hurling rocks at passing Palestinian vehicles. The suspects refused and sought to flee the scene, then lost control of their vehicle, which rolled over at the side of the road.

But according to Honenu, a legal aid group that often represents far-right settlers, the police car “hit [the settlers’] vehicle with force from behind, and the force of the impact caused their car to run off the road.”

Ahuvia Sandak, who was killed when his car flipped over while being chased by police in the West Bank on December 21, 2020. (Courtesy)

Sandak was trapped under the car and it took roughly 40 minutes to pull him out, the group said.

According to Army Radio, though, the other passengers in the car assumed that Sandak had fled the scene, not knowing that he remained trapped under the vehicle. They also refused to cooperate with police at the scene, wasting time that could have been used to save the victim.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department announced that it would be probing the circumstances of the crash.

Far-right Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich said in a statement that “police have a clear protocol for this [type of pursuit] and there is grave concern that it was violated, which led to the tragic result.”

Smotrich claimed “settlement representatives” and Zaka emergency workers were being barred from the scene in what could lead to a “serious crisis of confidence” of settlers in the police.

As tensions boiled, some 200 ultranationalist youth sought to break into the police’s national headquarters in Jerusalem, demanding that the officers be held accountable for Sandak’s death.

At least ten protesters were arrested, according to the Walla news site.

The deadly car crash came hours after an Israeli woman, Esther Horgen, was found dead in a northern West Bank forest where she had gone for a run a day earlier. Authorities are investigating her death as a suspected terror attack.

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