Defense Minister: Violent settlers must be punished

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday urged cabinet ministers to adopt a tougher stance on punishing West Bank settlers over violent acts against Palestinians.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Barak cited the unruly behavior of settlers who he said tended to take the law into their own hands, causing damage to Palestinian property.

The defense minister also stressed that settler attacks on Israel Police officers and Israel Defense Forces soldiers stationed near settlements presented a danger to Israeli public service.

He said that of late, IDF officers have arrested a number of settler youth charged with disturbing peace.

Although the incidents have been recorded, Barak said, the offenders have rarely been brought to court or tried for their actions. Those who are brought before legal authorities are discussed with light penalties, Barak added.

Reiterating his assertion from last week’s cabinet meeting, the defense minister said that the government must create an environment in which legal authorities work together to put offenders behind bars.

He added that he has raised the issue of late with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, and asked of him to ensure that punishment be enforced accordingly in West Bank settlements.

Meanwhile, the body of a 19-year-old Palestinian shepherd was found with gunshot wounds late Saturday night near a West Bank village south of Nablus, in an attack Palestinians blamed on local settlers.

Ref: Haaretz

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