Two Jewish settlers have been charged with terrorism for an axe attack earlier this month on a Palestinian family in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Thursday.
The Shin Bet said the attack occurred in the northern West Bank town of Hawara – the same town where hundreds of settlers burned houses and property in a rampage late last month that left one Palestinian dead.
The settlers were arrested for an attack that occurred the following week, on March 6. Security camera footage showed two assailants throwing stones at a Palestinian car. One of the attackers is then seen repeatedly striking one of the windows with what appears to be a hatchet or a small axe, before the car drives away.
The two suspects – one a resident of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar and the other a resident of the unauthorized outpost of Givat Ronen – were charged on Thursday with committing an act of terrorism and intentional sabotage of a vehicle with racist intent, the Shin Bet said.
The agency said the pair belonged to a “violent group” that tries to harm Palestinians and disrupt the activities of the Israeli military in the area. “The Shin Bet sees these acts, which are carried out under nationalistic motives, as a danger to national security,” it said.
Hawara, which is located near several hard-line Jewish settlements, experiences frequent friction between the sides. Arrests of Israelis for attacks on Palestinians are rare.
Last month’s settler rampage occurred after two Israelis were killed while driving through the town. Four Israelis have subsequently been wounded in two additional shootings there.
Israel’s police force says it has arrested 16 people in connection to the Feb. 26 rampage, including two suspects who are being held without charge while the investigation continues.