The IDF Thursday night night arrested the leader of anarchist-Arab security barrier riots, often violent, that have beleaguered Israel for more than four years. The arrest followed a failed attempt in September to nab Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, a 38-year-old teacher from Bil’in, where protestors have harassed and taunted soldiers and police every Friday since 2005.
Abu Rahmeh had been hiding in the nearby city of Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, before Thursday night’s counterterrorist maneuver, when nine army jeeps surrounded his apartment.
The demonstrations spread two years ago to the nearby village of Naalin, and hundreds of soldiers, policemen, Arabs and anarchists have been wounded in violent clashes at the security fence.
The High Court ruled in 2007 that the route of the barrier at the village was not based on security considerations and took away too much of the village’s land. The case is pending the outcome of appeals.
The riots that are staged every Friday are often led by foreigners, who have been backed by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and South African cleric Desmond Tutu. The demonstrators frequently throw rocks at soldiers, one of whom lost an eye, forcing police and army troops to respond with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets.