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Israeli soldier arrested for joining settler attack on IDF unit in West Bank

Israeli army chief and PM Lapid slam ‘criminal’ behavior from the settlers, who threw stones at Palestinian vehicles and attacked soldiers with pepper spray, injuring a general and another soldier

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission. Sign up here to get Haaretz’s free Daily Brief newsletter delivered to your inbox.

An Israeli soldier from a West Bank settlement near Nablus was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of participating in a widely-condemned settler attack on an IDF unit earlier in the day. The suspect has been handed over to the Shin Bet unit dealing with Jewish extremism.
On Thursday morning, a group of settlers threw rocks at passing Palestinian vehicles in Hawara, near Nablus, before attacking Israeli soldiers dispatched to the area.
According to a statement issued by the army, the soldiers were “violently attacked, including by pepper spray, by a number of settlers.” As a result, the commander of the unit and another soldier were injured.
According to the IDF, settlers pepper sprayed two additional soldiers at Tapuach Junction, also in the West Bank. The IDF condemned the attacks against soldiers by settlers, “who are being protected by them, is unacceptable behavior which must be vigorously stamped out.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid described the assailants as “dangerous criminals” who “must be punished without hesitation. They are endangering the lives of our soldiers and are harming the State of Israel.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned “the violence against the IDF soldiers [in the West Bank].” He said that “we will work to bring to justice the perpetrators who do not represent the settlements and harm the ability to provide security to the citizens of Israel and the residents of the area. The IDF soldiers have full backing to continue to operate and carry out their mission.”

The IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, also condemned the attack, calling it a “violent and criminal behavior that requires immediate treatment.”

Religious Zionism lawmakers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir also both condemned the attack.

Last week, dozens of settlers attacked Palestinian property and vehicles in the Hawara area. According to Palestinian witnesses, masked settlers threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the town and set fire to a truck and a café in the area. Around the nearby settlement of Yitzhar, settlers reportedly set fire to olive trees.

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