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Police Question West Bank Settlers for Allegedly Inciting Situation

September 27, 1989
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Police in the West Bank have summoned for questioning settlers suspected of having staged stone-throwing and petrol bomb attacks on Israeli cars earlier this year, in order to incite settlers and move the military authorities into harsher measures against the Arab population.

The settlers under questioning, most of them Tehiya activists in the settlement town of Ariel, reacted angrily to the police investigation into the matter. “This is a dirty slander,” reacted Dror Saspanov, one of the suspects and chairman of the local branch of Tehiya.

“We were shocked and amazed that it was possible to blame a Jew for throwing a petrol bomb aimed at hurting Jews,” he said, charging that the investigation was politically motivated.

Mayor Ron Nahman also said the allegations were “unbelievable and illogical.”

But police declared that the investigation would continue, and that a decision whether charges would be filed would be made “in the coming days.”

Police said the investigation was launched following the receipt of intelligence information that two petrol bomb attacks and a number of stoning incidents last January and February near Ariel and Ginot Shomron were carried out by settlers.

According to police, the settlers are suspected, inter alia, of having thrown a petrol bomb at a car driven by Avraham Shalev of Ginot Shomron on the Cross-Samaria highway on Jan. 24, an attack which was followed by enraged Ginot Shomron residents going on a rampage, damaging Arab-owned cars in the area.

No one was hurt and no damage was caused in any of the incidents investigated.

In other news, the Beersheba District court handed down a light sentence on Tuesday on a settler convicted of causing death out of negligence to an Arab school girl two years ago.


Shimon Yifrah, 32, a resident of the Neve Dekalim settlement in the Gaza Strip, received seven months’ suspended prison sentence for having caused the death of a high-school girl student following a stone-throwing attack.

Yifrah was a passenger in a car on the Khan Yunis-Gaza road. As it passed by the local girls high-school, the car was stoned by the girls.

When the driver made a U-turn to avoid a roadblock, Yifrah fired in the air to scare off the attackers.

Suddenly, he said, his arm was jerked, and he fired “lower than he intended,” fatally wounding in the back a girl who was running from the scene.

Judge Yitzhak Shabtai explained the light sentence as follows: “There is no argument that the defendant did not intend to hurt the girl or to cause the fatal outcome of the incident. He found himself, with no fault of his, in an area of rioting, for the first time in his life.

“He was stricken by panic and fears, and acted out of deep emotional trouble, without having been able at the time to properly evaluate the severity of his action.”

The judge decided to impose the relatively light sentence because “the criteria used to try criminals are not applicable in this case.”

News of the sentence was received with a loud sigh of relief, with settlers outside the courthouse singing and dancing.

Also on Tuesday, the army denied allegations by Amnesty International that an Arab detainee at the Ketziot camp in the Negev suffered heart attacks and was unfit for detention.

The army said that although the school-teacher, Badran Jaber, had suffered symptoms he believed were heart attacks, doctors did not diagnose any cardio logical problems and therefore said Badran was fit to stay at Ketziot.

Meanwhile, the body of a 35-year-old man was found Tuesday morning at a cemetery in Nablus, another victim of what military sources believed was suspicion of collaboration.

And the army and police are still investigating the apparent kidnapping Monday of four Nablus residents by masked men. Minister-without-Portfolio Ehud Olmert, who is responsible for Arab affairs, said Tuesday Israel should consider imposing the death penalty for serious security crimes.

On a tour of Nablus, Olmert told reporters there was no sign of any reduction of violence in the territories, despite some reports to the contrary. To deal with it, he said, the government must impose stiffer punishment on responsible parties.

Olmert warned that the creation of a Palestinian state would create serious problems between Israel and its Arab citizens.

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