By Chaim Levinson
Seven young, female Jewish settlers, six of them minors, were arrested Sunday by Israeli police on suspicion of vandalizing army property and participating in an incident last summer near the West Bank settlement of Shiloh, in which Palestinian-owned olive trees were damaged.
The Israel Police major crimes unit claims the suspects entered and caused damage to an Israel Defense Forces tent pitched in a high-friction area between Shiloh and the Palestinian village of Qursa, in order to divert the soldiers' attention from a second group of settlers that was destroying olive trees belonging to villagers.
| Yaska Weiss was arrested on suspicion of involvement in price tag attack, Dec. 4, 2011. |
|Photo by: Nir Keidar|
All of the suspects were arrested near the tent on the day of the incident and released with the agreement of the police. But investigators in the major crimes unit now say they have new evidence that justifies arresting them again.
Two of those allegedly involved - Yaska Weiss, 19, of Kiryat Arba, the only one whose name was released for publication since the others are minors; and a girl identified as H. from Jerusalem - are also suspected of sabotaging IDF vehicles on a West Bank army base in September.
The Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court Sunday ordered the suspects to remain in custody for two days. The police had asked to keep Weiss and H. in custody for 10 more days, and the other suspects for five.
Weiss, whose brother Shmuel was killed in Jenin while serving in the 2002 IDF operation Defensive Shield - when he was the same age she is now - was arrested six months ago on suspicion of setting a Palestinian vehicle on fire. She was released due to insufficient evidence.
H. has been arrested dozens of times in connection with her activities along with the "hilltop" youth of the West Bank.
Police investigators are thought to have cellphone records connecting Weiss and H. to the offenses, but the extent of the evidence collected against them is not known.