A fiber-optic cable technician who was arrested on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank and Israel on suspicion that he is involved in smuggling settlers is an engineer for Tel Aviv’s fiber-networking company.
The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said the technician, Yosef Eitam, a resident of Beit Sahour, was arrested after he tried to enter the West Bank town of Salfit on a bus.
“I think that this is a first step in dismantling the settlements, which are the primary obstacle for peace, according to [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Eitav told The Associated Press.
“It will have an impact on the Palestinian state, as well as on the rest of the region, which will be forced to confront this problem, which is causing so much suffering in the region.”
Eitah was charged with smuggling and obstructing a court investigation.
He could face up to 15 years in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The Tel Aviv Police did not immediately respond to AP questions about the case.
A spokesperson for Tel Hashomer, the police force that oversees the city, told the AP that Eitatam had been placed on administrative leave and was under arrest.
A statement by Eitaw told the Associated Press that Eitsha is a “highly qualified engineer” and was employed by Tel Hashom in a position of “very important importance.”
Eitzat Hashom is the main provider of fiber optic cable in the West, with other companies supplying services in the Gaza Strip and the Gaza-Israel border area.
Tel Hashome said it had no comment.
The police statement said Eita is not related to any of the arrested settlers.
The case comes a day after Israeli settlers torched a Tel Aviv bus carrying Israeli military personnel and one of its employees, and later a van they drove into a Jerusalem park.
The attack sparked international outrage.
The Israelis have also threatened to take revenge, saying the Palestinian driver and two passengers have been killed by Israeli settlers, who were also arrested on Monday.
The Palestinians say they are protesting against Israeli restrictions on the movement of settlers.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office has called for calm on both sides of the border in response to the attack.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the violence as a “declaration of war.”
Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force to quell unrest in the Palestinian territories.
The U.S. State Department has condemned Israel’s actions, saying that the violence is a threat to U.N. Security Council resolutions that Israel is required to abide by.
Israel’s Defense Ministry has said the driver and passengers have all been released.
The United Nations says there are no immediate plans to take action against Israel.
The AP’s Daniel Wessel reported from Jerusalem.