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Extremist Israeli settler indicted for minor charges after opening fire on Palestinian vehicle

Sept. 4, 2016 10:56 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 23, 2017 5:34 P.M.)
The damadged back windshield of the Palestinian cab. (Photo: Israel Police)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- A right-wing extremist Israeli settler who chased and opened fire on a Palestinian taxi last month has been arrested over minor charges with no accusations being made in the indictment of "nationalistic motives" for his actions.

According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, 18-year-old Moshe Yanon Orin from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Givat Aroussi was detained on Aug. 28.

An Israeli-issued gag order placed on the case was lifted on Sunday.

Israeli police and Israel’s general security service the Shin Bet arrested “the extremist right wing activist,” for being suspected of attempting to “harm the life of a human,” al-Samri said.

Orin stands accused of firing shots from an air handgun at a Palestinian taxi on Aug. 24, smashing its rear windshield. No injuries were reported.

The statement added that police officers who inspected the suspect’s home found air pistol that was allegedly used in the incident, air gun ammo, several propane tanks, an empty 5.56 ammunition clip, a slingshot, and a metal box with tire-piercing spikes.

The suspect reportedly admitted during interrogation that he went to Route 60 near the illegal Yitzhar settlement crossroads south of Nablus and fired shots from an air handgun at a Palestinian taxi and fled the scene.

The suspect was indicted on Sunday on suspicion that he “endangered the life of a human” and his remand was extended until another decision is made.

Israeli news site Ynet said the indictment explained that Oren was driving an ATV as a Palestinian taxi cab driving the opposite way. At a certain point, the cab diverged from its path, allegedly forcing Oren to turn away, onto the side of the road. The indictment claims that Oren then made a U-turn, chased the cab -- in which five Palestinian were riding -- pulled out his air gun, fired, and broke the rear window.

“Prosecutors came to the conclusion that the motive for the incident could not be discerned to have been necessarily related to nationalistic sentiment, and so Oren was indicted merely for the crime of firing at a vehicle,” Ynet reported.

Ynet quoted Oren's attorney as saying: "This is a young guy ahead of his (Israeli army) enlistment, who felt (he was in) danger as a result of the wild driving by the plaintiffs and used an air gun, which is a toy gun. This is not a 'price tag' action."

The Nablus area is home to several settlements who have gained a reputation for being home to extremists who regularly carry out attacks on Palestinians and their property, known as “price tag attacks.”

The attorney added, "It's inconceivable that my client's place of residence would lead to the decision to have the case investigated by the Shin Bet, and (the decision) to bar him from seeing an attorney, while severely and continuously doing harm to his basic rights."

The minor charge came as many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

Meanwhile, recent drive-by shootings carried out by Palestinians on Israeli targets have seen the suspects extrajudicially executed, their homes demolished, and their entire hometown blockaded by Israeli forces, where uninvolved residents had their work permits revoked.

According to Israeli NGO Yesh Din, over 85 percent of investigations into violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians are closed without indictments and only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks result in a conviction.

Yesh Din spokesperson Gilad Grossman told Ma’an in May -- ahead of the release of a Jewish extremist arrested in the wake of a deadly arson attack that killed three members of the Palestinian Dawabsha family in the occupied West Bank last summer -- that the dearth of adequate policing by Israeli forces in the West Bank is largely due to lack of ability as well as unwillingness to address ideologically-motivated crimes against Palestinians.

Attacks by settlers are often carried out under the armed protection of Israeli forces who rarely make efforts to protect Palestinians from such attacks.

Over 500,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 221 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2015.
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