A large security force broke into a yeshiva in the Samaria community of Yitzhar, and violently arrested nine youths, including six minors, shortly before 4 a.m. Monday. Four have been released, and no reason was immediately given for the arrests. It was later rumored that they were arrested on charges of damaging Arab property.
Other students reported that anyone who tried to resist arrest was subjected to violence, and anyone who tried to film the incident had their cameras taken away.
Eyewitnesses reported that the forces arrived with “weapons drawn” and their faces covered, and were accompanied by GSS (Shabak) personnel. One student reportedly lost consciousness during the raid, and heavy property damage was caused.
The three 20-year-olds arrested were Tzvi Sukkot and Eliran Algali of Yitzhar, and Shlomo Gilbert of Elon Moreh.
“Whatever happened to civil rights?” asked one of those present. “The police did something here what it would not do against any other population sector in Israel. Is this Iran?”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) was sharply critical of Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, who oversees Israeli Police: “Murders, pedophilia, other crimes – nothing bothers him; he sends hordes of policemen to vandalize Yitzhar while blatantly violating civil rights and hiding evidence of the police crimes.”
David HaIvri, spokesman for the Shomron Regional Council, issued this statement: "All too often, the police over-dramatize accusations and arrests in communities like Yitzhar. Recently a youth who studies in the same yeshvia was arrested and questioned for hours, only to be later quietly released after his name was smeared through the international media as a criminal. They never bother to apologize for the damage to these individuals and communities. This type of behavior would not be accepted torwards high school students in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and cannot be accepted in Shomron either."
It was assumed that the arrests are connected with the Price Tag project, which exacts a “price” from neighboring Arabs for any anti-Jewish police activity that takes place in the region. The destruction of a Jewish outpost, for instance, could be met with the blocking of an Arab road. The arrests might also be connected with the torching last month of a mosque in Samaria, the perpetrators of which have never been caught or identified.