JERUSALEM (Jun. 25)
Eleven Jewish settlers were arrested over the weekend for killing one Palestinian youth and wounding another in an alleged armed attack on the village of Bani Zeit in the West Bank on Friday.
Three of the suspects were released on bail Sunday, apparently because they were the only ones involved who were not carrying firearms.
The settlers insisted they were on a peaceful hike in the vicinity when they were attacked by Arab youths from the village. They said they opened fire when their lives were “threatened.”
Arab sources said the settlers, armed with machine guns, raided the village, and when local youths tried to drive them out, the settlers shot and killed Aziz Khamis Yousef Arar, 20, and wounded his cousin, Adnan Yousef Arar, 14.
Bani Zeit is located about four miles from Ariel, the largest Jewish settlement in the territory.
A resident of Ariel, Steven Frederick Rosenfeld, 48, was stabbed to death by Arabs from Burkin village on June 17. Three suspects were taken into custody two days later and reportedly confessed the crime.
Rosenfeld was hiking alone in the countryside when he was assaulted.
The settlers from Ariel said their hikes were a weekly routine, but they said the latest one was to demonstrate that they were not intimidated by Rosenfeld’s murder.
The settlers ignored an Israel Defense Force warning that they were entering a closed military zone, in order to demonstrate that Jews can “move freely in Eretz Yisrael,” they said.
The settlers were backed by the parliamentary factions of Likud and the far right-wing Tehiya party.
Those jailed include Israel Meidad, parliamentary secretary of the Tehiya movement, and Yitzhak Novak, who served a two-year prison term for membership in an anti-Arab Jewish terrorist underground broken up by the security forces in 1984.
The incident was the latest of the increasingly frequent confrontations between militant Jewish settlers and Arab villagers in the West Bank.