newsIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

Two Israelis held in death of Palestinian teen following Arab attack

Kosai Ma'atan, 19, was killed after attack on Jewish shepherd.

Homicide suspect Elisha Yered arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Aug. 5, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Homicide suspect Elisha Yered arrives for a hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, Aug. 5, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court early Sunday ordered two Jewish suspects arrested in the shooting death of a Palestinian to be held in custody for an additional five days.

Judge Mohamad Haj Yahya acceded to the police request to hold Elisha Yered, 22, from the Ramat Migron outpost, and Yehiel Indore, 28, from the town of Ofra, through Wednesday.

The two residents of the Binyamin region of Samaria are suspected of involvement in the killing of Kosai Ma’atan, 19, from the Arab village of Burqa.

Indore, the prime shooting suspect, was not present at the court hearing, having sustained a serious head injury at the hands of Arab attackers. He underwent an operation and has still not been questioned by police.

Yered, who is a former spokesman for Otzma Yehudit Knesset member Limor Son Har-Melech, is suspected of interfering with a police investigation by taking Indore’s gun back to his home.

Yered suffered an injury to his hand, which required medical attention.

According to the IDF, the incident took place on Friday when “Israeli civilians” herded sheep near Burqa. Arabs exited the town to push the herd away from the area.

“There, verbal confrontations ensued which were followed by the hurling of rocks by both sides, and the firing of fireworks by Palestinians,” the army said.

“During the confrontation, Israeli civilians shot towards the Palestinians. As a result of the confrontation, a Palestinian was killed, four others were injured, and a Palestinian vehicle was found burned Several Israeli civilians were injured from rocks hurled at them,” the IDF added.

According to Israeli news site HaKol HaYehudi, (“The Jewish Voice”), a solitary Jewish shepherd grazed his herd about 500 to 700 meters (546 to 765 yards) from the village when a group of Arabs approached and told him to move further away. The shepherd called to friends for help.

“That’s when hundreds of Arab rioters came down from Burqa armed with clubs, fireworks and rocks and began to attack the settlers in a severe and life-threatening manner,” the news site reported.

HaKol HaYehudi, which attended the court hearing, said, “The police representative admitted that the evidence collected so far indicates that hundreds of Arabs were involved in the events and attacked the Jewish settlers.”

Indore and Yered were arrested on Saturday morning. No Arabs were arrested.

“The only murder that took place here is a character assassination of the settlers,” said attorney Nati Rom, who is representing the accused together with attorney Avichai Hajbi. “For an entire Shabbat they were murdered in the media even though they were the ones who were attacked and acted in clear self-defense.”

At the hearing, it emerged that Yered had picked up the gun of Indore, who collapsed during his evacuation to a military intensive care vehicle. Yered took the gun to Ramat Migron. Shortly thereafter, Yered made contact with the district police and asked where he should hand over the weapon.

“Despite this and despite giving a detailed version of events, he was suspected of obstructing investigative procedures. This is ridiculous because if he or others had hurried to get rid of the gun, they could have done so easily, but he passed the gun himself to the police,” HaKol HaYehudi reported.

The police have also lodged a charge of suspicion of murder against Yered, even though the police representative at the hearing said that Indore was the alleged shooter.

The U.S. State Department denounced the killing in a tweet on Saturday night: “We strongly condemn yesterday’s terror attack by Israeli extremist settlers that killed a 19-year-old Palestinian. The U.S. extends our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones. We note Israeli officials have made several arrests and we urge full accountability and justice.”

Similarly, Tor Wennesland, United Nations special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, decried the attack: “I strongly condemn the deplorable acts of settler violence against Palestinians in the village of Burqa in the occupied West Bank, including the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old Palestinian during a confrontation with #Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal outpost.”

Israeli opposition politicians also condemned the killing. Labor Party leader Merav Michaeli on Sunday called to deport the family of the “terrorist settler” who shot the Palestinian.

Referring to a “dangerous Jewish nationalist terrorism” that is developing, Benny Gantz, head of the National Unity faction, tweeted on Sunday, “The event in Burqa, whatever the circumstances, joins a chain of events that engage the security forces in chasing Israelis instead of protecting them.

“The price of the silence of our national leadership, the lack of backing for the security forces … and the fact that members of the government and coalition support those extremists [is] a stain on our image that will not be erased and a danger to our security,” he added.

On Sunday, Israel Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, criticized Michaeli and others on the left for being quick to judgment.

“The hatred by elements of the extreme left is amazing. Even a Jew who is hospitalized in serious condition with a deep head injury does not make them stop for a moment and think that he probably acted in self-defense to save his life,” he said.

“They give automatic backing to the terrorism that threatens us every day on the roads, in the settlements and everywhere …

“I wish to strengthen the hands of all the Jewish shepherds who encounter systematic Arab terrorism. It is to be hoped that the police investigation will not be affected by the racist campaign that attacks the injured resident simply because he is Jewish,” Gantz said.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit Party, tweeted Sunday, “The Israeli media (again) got confused: a Jew who defends himself and others against the murder of Palestinians is not a murder suspect but a hero who will receive my full support.

“There may be some who are confused about which side they are on— I’m not confused. Always on the side of my people, certainly when the danger of life hovers over the head of a Jew who is required to respond with determination and heroism,” he added.

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