28 Feb. 2012: Video provided by B'Tselem leads to indictment of three settlers for property damage and threats in a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah

28 Feb 2012

On 15 February 2012, the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office indicted a soldier and two young women, charging that on 7 February 2012, they destroyed property and sprayed malicious graffiti against Palestinians in a-Lubban a-Sharqiyah, a village in the Nablus District. The defendants, who reside in settlements in the northern West Bank, are Moriah Goldberg, Oriyan Nazri, and Azariya Tene, a soldier in the Golani Brigade. The indictment also accuses the soldier of using his gun to threaten villagers who tried to stop his car, in which the three had entered the village in the middle of the night.

The three were arrested following B'Tselem’s media exposure of footage from a security camera of a Palestinian merchant in the village. The film shows one of the young women, holding a sharp implement, getting out of the car, walking toward a Palestinian-owned building-materials store on the side of the road, damaging some sacks of cement, and returning to the car, which then drives off. At least two other persons were in the vehicle. Eyewitnesses told B'Tselem that residents noticed the vehicle and tried to stop it, but it fled from the scene. In the morning, residents discovered graffiti defaming the Prophet Muhammad on stone panels at a shop on the side of the road and the word “revenge” on a vehicle parked on the access road to the village.

The damage to the building-supplies store was minimal. However, the footage illustrates the ease with which settlers enter Palestinian villages and damage property. This situation creates a volatile situation that endangers the residents as well as the lawbreakers. In this case, the rare documentation of the perpetrators in action led to their arrest. However, police handling of most such cases is ineffectual.

At least four instances have occurred since the beginning of 2012, in which Palestinians have noticed settlers damaging property or entering a Palestinian village in the middle of the night, and have chased them off. These incidents raise concern that the attacks on property may escalate and could result in serious injury. Last year, two Palestinians were killed by settlers and security forces in clashes that broke out after settlers entered Palestinian land, in Qusra and Beit ‘Ummar villages.