Daily Israel Report

Arab Caught Surveilling Itamar, IDF Frees Him

Unbelievable: Arab, allowed into Itamar's territory "to harvest olives," caught looking at Jewish homes through binoculars - and freed.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 10/18/2011, 2:13 PM

Arab, binoculars.
Arab, binoculars.
Samaria Residents' Council

Six months after the shocking murder of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar, residents caught an Arab man conducting surveillance on their homes and security system.

The man is a resident of Beit Furik who was brought into Itamar's territory, supposedly to harvest olives, with IDF accompaniment. He was caught red-handed as he was viewing the settlement's homes and defense setup with binoculars.

The community's security officers and military forces, who spotted the Arab, captured him. However, an officer from the IDF Coordination and Liaison Office who was on location overseeing the olive harvest insisted on freeing him. He claimed that the Arabs were not informed in advance of regulations regarding what they are permitted to bring with them to the olive harvest and what they may not bring.

The IDF's decision and explanation caused particular anger and frustration because one of the Fogel's murderers, Hakim Awad, had gathered intelligence on the community when he was allowed near it for the olive harvest. When he and his cousin Amjad entered the community and carried out the massacre, they did so after gaining knowledge and familiarity with the settlement during the olive harvest.

A week ago, the IDF Civil Administration brought in family members of the murderers who carried out the slaughter in Itamar -- the Awad clan -- for the olive harvest, within the border fences of Itamar, a move that caused an uproar in the settlement and a demonstration by the residents headed by Tamar Fogel, which forced the Civil Administration to remove the murderers' clan from within the settlement's territory. The Arabs taunted their Jewish neighbors and promised them "more Fogels."

The head of the Samaria Regional Council reacted harshly to the way the olive harvest was conducted:

"This is irresponsibility of the first order and a scandal that cries out to the heavens. Exactly a year ago I warned the commanders in the military echelons and the Civil Administration that terrorists are liable to use the olive harvest to gather intelligence before attacks. Despite all the warnings, hundreds of Arabs from the village of Awarta freely entered Itamar for the olive harvest, among them the murderer Hakim Awad, who gathered intelligence before the slaughter.

"I would expect that at least for this year this matter will be dealt with logically," Mesika said.