Settler youth indicted for West Bank 'price tag' attack

12:00 Dec 27 2012 Be'er Sheva District Court, Israel

Ilan Assayag The suspects in court in Be’er Sheva. Photo by Ilan Assayag

Youths are accused of setting a Palestinian-owned car on fire and spraying graffiti near Dahariya, south of Hebron.

By Chaim Levinson for Haaretz

Three young settlers were indicted on Thursday at Be'er Sheva District Court for committing hate crimes against Palestinians. The youths are accused of setting a Palestinian-owned car on fire and spraying graffiti near Dahariya, south of Hebron.

According to the indictment, Natanel Kellerman, Aharon Sadigorski and Yehiel Lacks drove out of the settlement of Maon carrying rocks, a toy weapon, a bottle with inflammable material, a crowbar, pocket knives, disposable gloves, matches, spray paint and nails.

They entered the village of Dahariya, set a car on fire and sprayed graffiti on walls. They continued to the village of Samoa, where they were surprised by police officers. The three tried to escape, and one of the youths in the vehicle, whose identity is known to the police, remains at large. Lacks is accused of attacking a police officer after the escape, the indictment said.. Prosecutors assert that the crime was a "price tag" attack - a hate crime against Palestinians, Christians or leftists. Based on the view of a Shin Bet security service official, the indictment states that "these price tag actions against innocent people and their property, who were chosen only because they are Arab, were meant to convey various messages in violent and offensive ways - to the Palestinian public, the Arabs in Israel and the Jewish population - as to the right and proper way to handle various incidents in Israel concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict."

'Deliberate provocation'

The indictment adds that "the perpetrators of the price tag actions hoped to cause agitation and disquiet in the Judea and Samaria areas, and in residential areas populated by Arabs in Israel, and lead to agitation in these and other areas in a manner that might lead to disruption of law and order by the Arab and Palestinian population in Israel and in Judea and Samaria, which would compel the police and security forces to divert larger resources to restore law and order in these areas."

Neither the indictment nor the prosecutors' request to keep the defendants under house arrest cites conclusive evidence against the suspects, such as film, forensic evidence or eyewitnesses pointing to the defendants' involvement in the crimes. However, there are signs that the Shin Bet and police had their methods of gathering evidence. Details in the indictment suggest that a device which monitors location was attached to Sadigorski's car.

The car was parked for a month in Kiryat Arba, and the moment it was ignited, detectives began following it. There was also bugging equipment in the car, but the audio quality it received was poor.

The police also made use of agents who tried to lead the suspects into reveal details of the crimes. Sadigorski spoke to them, and offered a general explanation about hate crimes, but did not admit to setting the specific car on fire.

The defendants' attorney, Adi Keidar of Hanenu, a right-wing legal aid organization, said that "from reading the indictment and the request to prolong the house arrest, one can learn that there is a problem with the evidence, and that the indictment was submitted in order to improve the image of the police after their failures to solve price tag events."
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