'Asira al-Qibliya: One year after settlers rioted in the village, only one settler has been indicted
On 13 September 2008, after a Palestinian stabbed a boy and torched a caravan in the Shalhevet Yam settlement near Yitzhar, dozens of settlers raided the village of ‘Asira al-Qibliya. They threw stones, fired into the air, broke windows, drew Stars of David on walls of homes, and caused extensive property damage. Testimonies given to B'Tselem indicate that soldiers present at the time enabled the settlers to riot and fired at residents of the village, in breach of their lawful duty to protect the villagers. Some of the events were documented on video as part of B'Tselem's camera distribution project.
In October 2008, B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General's Office and the Israel Police, demanding that the Military Police be directed to investigate the involvement of soldiers in the attack on the village and the firing at villagers, and that the Israel Police investigate the involvement of Yitzhar security officials in the attack. The only response B'Tselem received was a statement from the judge advocate for operational matters that the matter had been forwarded for examination.
The Yesh Din organization also wrote to the Israel Police, demanding an investigation into the settlers' conduct. After being informed, on 19 January 2009, that the file had been closed on grounds of lack of evidence against the four persons against whom the complaints were filed, Yesh Din appealed the closing of the file to the head of the investigations office in the Samaria District on 3 December 2009. The file has not yet been received in the State Attorney's Office, and the allegations are being examined by the Samaria District police.
Today, more than one year and four months since the events, B'Tselem knows of only one indictment that has been filed relating to the events, charging a resident of Yitzhar with using a firearm in a residential area and with participating in a riot (it should be noted that the indictment includes a mistake in the name of the village). Yet dozens of settlers took part in the attack on the village, in the presence of soldiers and benefiting from their protection. The indictment itself indicates that the attack was carried out by “… the defendant and a number of other persons whose identity is unknown to the State.” Therefore, it is unclear why, more than a year after the events took place, the police have been able to identify only one of the rioters. The incident is especially grave in that security forces were present throughout the events.