Two Border Police officers suspended after violent clash with protesting settlers

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Two members of the Border Police were suspended overnight Sunday night after video emerged of officers beating protesting settlers in the West Bank.

Border Police Commander Amir Cohen ordered a probe into the incident and suspended the two, pending the completion of the probe. The move came after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir demanded a clarification of the clash.

Local settlement residents were holding a protest following the murder of Meir Tamari, a father of two, who was shot dead at the entrance to the Hermesh settlement last month. According to the settlers, the IDF  has left checkpoints unmanned, which is enabling attacks.

During the protest dozens blocked cars using the road to the nearby Palestinian town of Ya’bad, demanding that the army position a permanent checkpoint at the site.

Border Police officers who arrived were filmed punching and shoving the settlers, knocking some of them to the ground. Four protesters were lightly injured in the incident.

Among those injured was Tatiana Reider, a resident of Hermesh and the widow of Yevgeny Reider who was killed in a 2005 terror attack, that also seriously injured their teenage son. Tatiana and her son Andrey were both lightly hurt in the clash on Sunday.

Far-right Ben Gvir, a staunch supporter of the settlement movement, said in response that he had asked the Border Police commander and the Defense Ministry to clarify the “grave” sights from the protest.

“Equal rights for everyone, certainly for the widow who comes to demonstrate against the lawlessness towards Jews in those areas,” he said.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, also a far-right lawmaker behind the settlement movement, called the incident “a disgrace.”

“Brutal violence against the citizens of Israel, not in our backyard,” he said in a statement. “The violence that was used against them is severe and outrageous. I’m not criticizing all the forces that were on the ground, but I expect that the violent policemen will be dealt with already this evening.”

Ben Gvir is in charge of the Israel Police which includes the para-military Border Police. Since taking office, Ben Gvir has sought to exercise more direct control over police operations and personnel. He has pushed for cops to take more aggressive measures against anti-government demonstrators, whom he terms “anarchists.” The anti-government demonstrators, along with opposition parties in the Knesset, oppose a coalition plan to reshape the judiciary which is backed by Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party and that of Smotrich’s Religious Zionism.

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