Israel on Sunday charged five alleged Jewish extremists over a December raid on an army base, accusing them of gathering intelligence on the Israeli military and planning a riot, local media said.
The Jerusalem Post said that the accused, from Jerusalem and two West Bank settlements, were charged with “gathering important military intelligence, conspiracy to riot and entering a closed military zone.”
In the attack on a brigade headquarters in the northern Waest Bank, about 50 right-wing activists breached the perimeter fence and went on the rampage, setting fire to tires, assaulting a senior officer and damaging vehicles with stones, paint and nails.
Public radio said that the indictment presented in court on Sunday accused the five of tracking the movements of army units in the West Bank and passing them on to settlement activists.
“They sought to prevent by illegal means the dismantling of (settlement) outposts decided by the government, and distributed reports from spotters, scouts and accomplices,” the radio said.
The December raid was just one in a rising tide of so-called “price-tag” attacks by settlers and their supporters aimed at stopping government moves to dismantle wildcat West Bank settlement outposts.
The attacks have mainly targeted Palestinian property and the homes and offices of Israeli peace activists, but of late they have twice struck military bases associated with outpost demolition operations, enraging the political leadership which has vowed to clamp down on the perpetrators.
Destruction of Palestinian property, including the vandalizing of several mosques in the West Bank and Jerusalem, has rarely resulted in Israeli legal action.
“Of all of the mosques which have been torched or damaged in the past two years, there have not been any charges,” Sarit Michaeli of Israeli rights group B’tselem told AFP.
Police say they arrested suspects in connection with mosque attacks but were unable to press charges due to lack of evidence.