Shin Bet: 2 Palestinians admit to throwing rocks that killed Israeli Asher Palmer and infant son

The Shin Bet security service reports that it has arrested two Palestinian citizens from Halhoul who admitted to throwing a rock that caused a fatal crash near Kiryat Arba on September 23rd. 25-years-old Asher Palmer and his one-year-old son Yonatan were killed after their vehicle flipped over.

The Shin Bet also arrested three Palestinians on suspicion of stealing Palmer’s gun after the crash. The investigation was a joint operation by the Shin Bet, Israel Police and the IDF.

On Thursday, IDF figures revealed that September was the most violent month in the last year and a half in terms of rock throwing in the West Bank.

There were 498 incidents of rocks being thrown last month – 33 percent more than the monthly average over the past year. This was the highest monthly total since Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in early 2009.


Israel holds suspects in settler deaths, mosque fire

Israel said on Thursday it had arrested five Palestinians in the West Bank in connection with the stoning of a vehicle that overturned, killing a Jewish settler and his baby late last month.

Their arrest earlier this month was announced after Israel said it was holding a Jewish youth as a suspect in the retaliatory torching of a mosque on Monday in the Arab village of Tuba-Zangariya in northern Israel.

The September 23 deaths of settler Asher Palmer and his son are believed to have driven reprisal “price tag” attacks by pro-settler extremists since then. “Price tag” is what assailants have scrawled as graffiti at the scene of their attacks, alluding to the deaths of the settler father and baby.

Retaliation for the deaths has included the setting of a mosque on fire inside Israel and a stoning attack on Palestinian homes in a West Bank village, which triggered a Palestinian protest in which one person was shot dead by Israeli troops trying to quell it.

An Israeli security official said two Palestinians were suspected of stoning Palmer’s car as he drove in the Hebron area, and that three others were suspected of having taken his gun after he was killed in an ensuing car crash.

The weapon has since been retrieved, said the official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

No more details were given about the suspects.

Israeli media said the suspect in the mosque arson was a resident of northern Israel who had been studying at a religious seminary at a settlement in the West Bank, territory Israel occupied in a 1967 war and which Palestinians want for a state.

Three other militant settlers were charged in a court in Jerusalem on Wednesday with planning to set fire to a West Bank mosque.

Mainstream leaders of the 500,000 settlers living in the West Bank have strongly condemned the mosque vandalism and urged the Israeli government to apprehend the perpetrators.

Tensions between settlers and some of the 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank have risen alongside a Palestinian application for statehood recognition filed at the United Nations last month, a step Israel opposes.

Palestinians launched the statehood bid a year after peace talks collapsed over Israel’s refusal to extend a partial moratorium on the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Arab Israelis demonstrate after mosque attack

Arab Israelis demonstrated after a mosque in a town in the lower Galilee was destroyed in a fire suspected to be a price tag attack.

Residents of the Bedouin Arab town of Tuba-Zangariyye threw rocks at Israeli security forces and set tires on fire during a protest march Monday, hours after the mosque in their village was set alight, destroying holy books and prayer rugs.

Graffiti, including the words “price tag” and “Palmer” were spray painted on the walls of the mosque, according to reports. Police have reportedly arrested some suspects in the Sunday night arson attack.

Price tag refers to the strategy that extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or for Palestinian attacks on Jews. Palmer likely refers to Israeli Asher Palmer, who died on Sept. 23 along with his infant son after a rock thrown in an apparent terrorist attack crashed through the windshield of his car, causing him to lose control of the car, which then flipped over. 

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “outraged by the images” of the arson attack and that “this crime contravenes the values of the State of Israel, in which freedom of religion and freedom of worship are supreme values.”

President Shimon Peres also condemned the attack, saying that “This is a time for reflection, in which we should condemn such acts among us, acts that sabotage the relationship between us and our neighbors and between the different religions living in Israel.”

Residents have blamed extremists from the nearby town of Safed.

The American Jewish Committee called the attack “despicable.”

“This assault on a Muslim house of worship in Israel, which has gone to great lengths to protect freedom of worship and foster a spirit of mutual respect, is outrageous,” said AJC director David Harris. β€œThe perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”