Hundreds rally in support of settler suspected of killing Palestinian in West Bank

Hundreds of right-wing activists protested outside the Ariel police station in the West Bank on Saturday night in support of a settler suspected of stabbing a Palestinian man to death.

The Kan public broadcaster said the crowd gathered to protest because police have prevented the suspect from meeting with a lawyer.

Right-wing lawmaker Idit Silman, a renegade member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party, spoke out in concern for the suspect.

“I will call the Knesset Health Committee to look into the conditions of his arrest and make sure his health is not being harmed,” Silman said, according to Kan.

The man is suspected of murder as an act of terror and obstruction of justice, and will meet with a lawyer on Monday, the report said.

Israeli police arrested a suspect on Wednesday for alleged involvement in the incident, in which a Palestinian man was stabbed to death the previous day in the northern West Bank.

Palestinian witnesses said Ali Hassan Harb, a 27-year-old engineer, was stabbed in the chest by a settler on the outskirts of his hometown of Iskaka late on Tuesday afternoon. A group of Israelis had arrived in the area with construction materials in an apparent attempt to build a new illegal outpost.

Police initially arrested a settler in his 40s who was held as a suspected accomplice, but not on suspicion of carrying out the stabbing himself. Police declined to comment any further, citing a gag order barring “any details of the investigation” from being published. It wasn’t clear if the protesters on Saturday were focused on the same suspect.

Harb’s death is also being investigated by both the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police’s Nationalist Crimes Unit in the Judea and Samaria Division, which often investigates Jewish extremist violence.

The detained Israeli’s lawyer said in a statement that his client had narrowly survived an assault by dozens of Palestinians.

Harb’s family said a settler had stabbed him as he and others attempted to prevent the settlers from setting up an illegal outpost on his family’s land.

Israeli officials told The Times of Israel last year that Jewish extremist violence in the West Bank was on the rise. The number of attacks rose in 2021 by nearly 50 percent, according to the Shin Bet.

Most of the cases are never solved. Since 2005, just 3 percent of police investigations into extremist violence against Palestinians have led to indictments, according to the left-wing Yesh Din rights group.

Settler leaders have condemned some of the most brazen attacks, such as an incident near the outpost of Givat Ronen in which masked figures torched a car belonging to left-wing Israeli activists. They also say that the phenomenon is dwarfed by the number of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis.

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