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12 arrested in connection with riots in Arab villages

The riots, which followed the deadly June 20 terror attack near Eli in Samaria, were condemned as "nationalist terrorism" by Israel's security establishment.

Burned cars in the village of Al-Lubban, next to the Israeli community of Eli. Photo by Flash90.
Burned cars in the village of Al-Lubban, next to the Israeli community of Eli. Photo by Flash90.

Twelve Israelis have been arrested in connection with riots in Arab villages in Samaria last week, according to the Israel Police.

Several dozen Jewish Israelis set fire to homes and cars in the villages of Turmus Ayya on June 21 and Umm Safa on June 24. In Turmus Ayya, one Arab, Omar Abu Katan, 27, was reported to have been killed, but Palestinian sources claim he was shot by IDF soldiers.

On Wednesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signed administrative detention orders for four of the detainees on the recommendation of the Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet.

Administrative detention allows Israeli authorities to hold individuals without charge and without the ability to meet lawyers, a practice generally reserved for Palestinian terrorism suspects.

“The four detainees have been involved in violent events, overt and covert, for years. In the past they were arrested and restraining orders were issued against them, and despite this they continued their actions,” an anonymous security official told Ynet.

In the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, Gallant expressed concern over the phenomenon of Jewish lawbreakers, “many of whom do not come from Judea and Samaria, or even from the region. This group is growing and I am worried about it, as are the prime minister and the IDF chief of staff.”

Israeli officials have condemned the violence, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying on June 21, “All citizens of Israel are obligated to obey the law.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar and Israel Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said in a joint statement, “These attacks contradict every moral and Jewish value; they constitute, in every way, nationalist terrorism, and we are obliged to fight them.”

Such violence “diverts the security forces from their main mission of operating against Palestinian terrorism,” the statement said.

The reprisals were in response to the June 20 terror attack outside the Jewish town of Eli in which four Israelis were killed by two Arabs who opened fire at a gas station and eatery.

The victims were Harel Masood, 21; Ofer Fairman, 64 (some reports say 60); Elisha Anteman, 17 (some reports say 18); and Nachman Shmuel Mordoff, 17. The two terrorists were killed.

The United States said in response to the riots that it was “deeply troubled” by the events, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken telling Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on June 27 that he was concerned “over the recent escalation of violence, which has directly affected U.S. citizens in the West Bank, and underscored the need for all parties to work to further de-escalate the situation.”

Cohen said Israel condemns “events in which citizens take the law into their own hands, but we will fervently fight against Palestinian terrorism and will do everything necessary to protect our citizens.”

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