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Ben-Gvir demands police explain ‘collective punishment’ of Ateret

Israeli security forces locked down the Samaria community after dozens of Jewish rioters rampaged through several Palestinian towns.

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir speaks during a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Feb. 15, 2023. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday instructed police to investigate what he called the collective punishment imposed on the Jewish community of Ateret in Samaria the day before.

“It is forbidden to punish an entire public. Given that it wasn’t permissible to seal off Issawiya [a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem], it’s not clear why it was possible to seal off the settlement of Ateret,” said a statement released by Ben-Gvir’s office.

He demanded an explanation of why police blocked the entry to the community and carried out inspections of all those entering and leaving.

The police apparently sealed the community in connection with the burning by Jews of at least two homes and two cars in the nearby Arab village of Umm Safa on Saturday. Clashes between the two sides resumed later on nearby Highway 60.

Ben-Gvir also demanded an investigation into reports of excessive force being used by police against Ateret residents who protested against the closure of their community on Saturday night.

In one video, a policeman can be seen dragging a protester by his payot (sidelocks, worn for religious reasons). Ben-Gvir’s office also referred to the use of tasers against protesters as “extremely problematic.”

Ben-Gvir made it clear to the police and security establishment that he expects them to apply the law in an equal manner toward all sectors of the population.

On June 20, dozens of Jews targeted several Arab villages in Judea and Samaria, burning cars and homes, after four Israelis were killed and four others were wounded in a terror attack near the town of Eli in the Benjamin Region.

Israeli politicians condemned the Jewish rioters, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying he “strongly condemns the violence that led to the burning of houses and vehicles in the village of Umm Safa. This is not our way.

“We strengthen the IDF soldiers who are working with determination and persistence to thwart terrorism and protect the residents of Judea and Samaria. [We] support and direct all security forces to act to maintain order and prevent incidents of uncontrolled violence by civilians in the area.”

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