A police detective admitted in court last week that police forces hid as Bedouin Arabs attacked Jewish hikers, and then jumped out to arrest the Jews who fought back.
The incident occurred last Tuesday, on the third day of a week-long "Land of Hilltops Trek" from the northern Shomron to southern Judea. As the 200 youths and adults passed by Maoz Esther (near Maaleh Michmas, between Jericho and northern Jerusalem), they were attacked by Bedouin Arabs with clubs and rocks.
Veteran Yesha (Judea and Samaria) settlement pioneer Daniella Weiss, former Mayor of Kedumim, spoke to IsraelNationalNews from the scene and described what happened:
"Everything was going very well, until we arrived in Maoz Esther. A bunch of Arabs swooped down upon us with rocks and clubs, and three of our people were injured; they have just been evacuated by ambulance. At one point, one of our escorts tried to protect one of our boys, and he shot in the air. Right then, something amazing happened:
"From behind a little hill suddenly emerged some cars and policemen wearing civilian clothes, but with police hats - and they arrested the one who shot in the air, as well as some of our other escorts who were carrying weapons!
"Apparently, the police were waiting and watching the whole time, doing nothing until our boy shot in the air."
Police Detective Confirms
Her estimate of what happened was later confirmed by none other than police detective Aharon Yair. Testifying last Wednesday in a Jerusalem court at a hearing regarding the three arrested Jews, Yair said [as reported by IsraelJustice.com], "The fact is that police forces were there. We understood that like last week, when there was a violent incident when [the hikers] came to[the Bedouin] with weapons, we were ready because we knew that this was a place of confrontation. The [Bedouin] set up cameras and therefore the police were there."
Attorney Naftali Wurtzberger immediately understood the implications, and asked, "If the police were there and watched the confrontation, why did the police not just stand openly and prevent [the hikers] from passing? If it was not permitted, [why did they not just] stop them? The situation, as I see it, looks like an ambush, [...hiding] out like thieves in the night."
Yair responded, "I'm not the one who decides. There are officers above me who decide what is overt and what is concealed." He later acknowledged that some of the police "were in a hiding place."
MKs Ariel and Eldad
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) told Arutz-7 that he planned to meet with Police Commissioner David Cohen and find out why the police appeared to be collaborating with the Bedouin against Jewish hikers.
His party colleague MK Aryeh Eldad said, "I have asked the Public Security Minister [Avi Dichter] for a response, and I expect to receive an answer within a few days. I have no doubt that the police were engaged in a provocation, just as they have been in other places, such as a recent incident in the Southern Mount Hevron area and elsewhere." He said earlier that this was "another step in the police agreeing to become a 'political police' in the service of the Olmert government."
Police arrested five Jewish hikers following the incident, including three adults. Three Jews were injured. Detective Yair said that three Bedouin were briefly arrested; no Bedouin were injured.
Weiss said that the police intended to arrest the armed escorts so that the group would have to abandon the hike. However, she said, the march continued, and the participants later even succeeded in circumventing police cordons outside Jerusalem.
"Police were surprised that to see how we managed to break through their barriers," she said, "and suddenly we appeared, 200 youths, right under their noses. After that, they let us continue."
Jews Distanced, Bedouins Freed
Jerusalem Magistrates Court Judge Shirli Renner sentenced all five to expulsion from Judea and Samaria, apart from the area of their own homes, for between 20 and 40 days. The Bedouin attackers, as mentioned, faced no judicial proceedings.
A week earlier, police arrested four Jewish hikers in the same region, on suspicion of having vandalized Bedouin property. Three of them were sentenced to 90 days' expulsion from Judea and Samaria. This, despite the lack of a complainant or formal charges, and despite the police testimony that the suspects did not perpetuate the vandalism and were merely on the scene at the time.
More recently, however, a Jerusalem judge ruled precisely the opposite in the case of a youth from Psagot (north of Jerusalem) who was in the vicinity when Arab property in Hevron was allegedly damaged. The judge ruled that merely being present when property is vandalized does not render a person responsible.
Asked about the opposing court decisions, Wurtzberger - who defended the Psagot youth in court - admitted that judicial policy is inconsistent: "Some judges are more concerned for the civil rights of persons who happen to be present during a violent incident, while others are more willing to accept the police's approach and hold responsible those who are present. It's a problem."