JERUSALEM — Israeli police, in what appears to be a new tactic to quell Jewish nationalists, have begun to use Arab provocateurs in the West Bank. Police have acknowledged that they used Arab stone throwers to stop young Jews from hiking through the West Bank on July 29.
Police detective Aharon Yair told a Jerusalem magistrate that Israeli security forces colluded with Arab provocateurs as part of an ambush to arrest the hikers.
Yair, when questioned by defense attorney Naftali Wurtzburger, admitted that special police forces, disguised in civilian clothes but wearing police hats, hid in an ambush together with Palestinian Bedouin waiting for the Jewish hikers to arrive.
W.”I am telling you that most of these hikes end quietly.”
Y. “The fact is that were police forces there. We understood that like last week, when there was a violent incident when they [the hikers] came to them [the Bedouin] with weapons, we were ready because we knew that this was a place of confrontation. They [Bedouin] set up cameras and therefore the police were there.”
W. “If the police were there and watched the confrontation, what was the problem of the police to stand openly and prevent them [the hikers] from passing and if it was not permitted, to stop them. The situation, as I see it, looks like an ambush. Somebody hides out like thieves in the night.”
Y. “I’m not the one who decides. There are officers above me who decide what
is overt and what is concealed.”
W. “You agree that special police forces were in the area at that time?
Y. “That’s what I said.”
W. “You said that they were in disguised civilian clothes?”
Y. “They wore a police hat and they shouted that they are police and identified themselves as police. Some were in a hiding place and some waited on alert.”
Police arrested five Jewish hikers near the Jewish community of Kockav Hashachar, including three adults, Netanel Kaufman, David Hai and Yitzhak Yisrael Hai and two minors, as they passed by a Bedouin encampment, close to the Jewish outpost of Maoz Esther. One of the armed escorts of the group of about 100 hikers shot in the air to disband the Bedouin, whom they said had thrown rocks at them, causing a rock-throwing melee. At least three settlers
were injured, including one who had to be hospitalized, after a Bedouin hit him over the head with a stick.
Yair said that three Bedouin were arrested but were handed over to the military prosecutor who had released them. None of the Bedouin were injured. Leaders of the “Land of Israel Faithful” said the young hikers were undeterred by the police ambush and continued on their four-day walk. “All of sudden policemen disguised as civilians but with police hats suddenly came out from behind a small hill and arrested the person who shot in the air and some of the armed escorts,” Daniella Weiss, a Jewish dissident and one of the organizers of the hike,” said.
Weiss said that the police intended to arrest the armed escorts so that the group would have to abandon the hike but the youth continued and later succeeded in circumventing police cordons outside Jerusalem.
“Police were surprised that to see how we managed to break through their barriers and we appeared, 200 youths, under their noses,” Weiss said. “After that they let us continue.”
Wurtzburger said that police knew of the hiker’s route and hid near the Bedouin encampment to ambush the young Jews.
“This incident is the direct result of a police provocation,” Wurtzburger, said. “There is an outpost next to Kochav Hashachar where tens or hundreds of people intended to pass by openly. The police were hiding out in the place in collusion with the Bedouin when the Bedouin, at least that’s the version we have, began to attack verbally and physically the hikers
until they withdrew and defended themselves.”
Despite the lack of formal charges or evidence, [Kaufman, a heart patient is shown standing on the side in video footage], Jerusalem Magistrate Shirli Rener sentenced all five to expulsion from Judea and Samaria, apart from the area of their own homes.
“The respondents do not have any criminal past but we are talking about a serious incident which could have ended differently,” Rener said on July 30. “After I have considered all the actions that are attributed to the respondents in the incident, I am heeding the words of the petitioner’s representative that other such incidents can be expected in the near future.”
Rener sentenced Kaufman and Hazut to expulsion from Judea and Samraria for 20 days and Hai to 40 days and she imposed a 3,000 shekels [$882] on each of them as well as on a third party guarantor. The two youths received sentences of 20 days and five days expulsion plus a bond of 3,000 shekels respectively.
On July 23, police arrested three Jewish hikers and a minor near the Jewish community of Maalei Michmas in the West Bank. They were suspected of vandalizing Bedoiun property. The three adults, Efrion Oppenheimer, Arieh Davis and Alexander Ostrovsky, were sentenced to 90 days expulsion from Judea and Samaria and a personal bond and the third party guarantee of
10,000 shekels [$2,942], despite the lack of a complainant or formal charges and police testimony that the suspects did not perpetuate the vandalism but were in the place at the time and were therefore responsible.
During the hearing before Jerusalem Magistrate Ilta Siskind, Yair testified that the police did not have a complainant or any physical evidence of charges of suspected vandalism of Bedouin property. The police also failed to conduct identification procedures.
Over the last year, police and prosecutors have acknowledged in court hearings human rights violations against Jewish nationalists. However, Israeli courts have generally ignored these violations which included arbitrary arrests, unprovoked assault of minors at peaceful demonstrations and detention for long periods of time without formal charges.
Israeli mainstream human rights groups refused to intervene in the violation of rights of those deemed Jewish nationalists. “As far as we know they haven’t turned to us,” Nirit Moskowitz,
spokeswoman for Association of Civil Rights in Israel, said.
The lions share of funding for most of these organizations has come from the European Union and from the United States.