'The thin line between criminals and terrorists'

Nighttime raid arrests Arabs who robbed Jewish farmers; IDF commander warns 'today's thief is tomorrow's murderer.'

Ido Ben-Porat ,

IDF Golani soldiers during the operation
IDF Golani soldiers during the operation
IDF Spokesperson Unit

Combat soldiers in the Golani Brigade's patrol battalion conducted arrests on Thursday night, in the Arab village of Deir Balut adjacent to the towns of Peduel and Alei Zahav in Samaria, just east of the 1949 Armistice line.

In recent months a cell of Arab criminals from the town broke into Jewish groves and stole over a ton of avocados and highly expensive agricultural equipment.

Following detailed investigations, the IDF force on Thursday night entered the town and arrested members of the cell.

"We are working widely against the criminal activity in the region for several reasons," explained Efraim Brigade Commander Col. Roi Sheetrit. "The first is that the role of the army in Judea and Samaria is also to preserve the public law and order."

"Secondly and more importantly - the line between criminal activity and terrorist activity is a very thin and dangerous line," he warned.

"Today the criminal succeeded in breaking into the farm and only stole a tractor, tomorrow he is liable to arrive to the homes of families in the region as well. The criminals have a contempt of the public law, and they must be arrested and brought to justice."

Illustrating the danger mentioned by the commander was the recent murder of Dafna Meir last month at the entrance to her home in Otniel, Judea, after an Arab terrorist broke into the town.

The IDF combat soldiers have already conducted arrests in the town of Deir Balut in the past, and on Thursday night the hunt after the criminals came to a close.

"We are happy to aid farmers of the state of Israel, and greatly appreciate the police for their significant investigation activity," concluded Sheetrit.