Violent Protest Over Demolitions at Yitzhar

YERUSHALAYIM -
A quieter moment at Yitzhar, sunset. (Wendy Hechtman/Flash90)
A quieter moment at Yitzhar, sunset. (Wendy Hechtman/Flash90)

A violent clash between residents of Yitzhar and security forces took place early Tuesday morning during a protest over the demolition of several illegal structures in the small Shomron community.

Six Border Police officers were lightly hurt as hundreds of local people threw stones at police and soldiers and tore down the local IDF security post. Security forces dispersed the rioters with non-lethal crowd control measures.

The demolitions were carried out as a punitive measure after repeated vandalism of IDF vehicles in the area.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon insisted on the restoration of order on Tuesday, while noting that the rioters did not represent all of Yitzhar.

“Unlike the rest of the settlements, there are violent elements in [Yitzhar],” Yaalon stated. He added, however, that “not all residents of Yitzhar are violent” and that the statement was confined to “incidents with the Shomron Brigade Colonel’s car,” which had been vandalized.

Still, Yaalon insisted on restoring order and respect for the IDF. “We cannot allow these, and other factors which can cause damage to Jewish communities [in Yehudah and Shomron] through their violence [. . .] to lift a hand against IDF soldiers, Border Policemen, or Israeli police.”

A spokesperson for Yitzhar told Army Radio: “The [government’s] policy of collective punishment aimed at the residents of Yitzhar is outrageous. It is inconceivable that the Israeli government and the security forces will raze homes belonging to innocents as a price tag and revenge for the grave acts committed by a few people.”

An IDF officer told Arutz Sheva that while six soldiers were at the outpost at the time it was destroyed, none were hurt.

“Although the rioters destroyed everything that was inside the outpost, the soldiers were not prepared for such a situation,” he continued, explaining that they never expected to see “Jews attacking Israeli soldiers.”

“We are working to protect the community and other communities from terrorists and not against Jews,” the officers said.

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) said Tuesday that the most urgent issue, at the moment, is maintaining calm. He stressed that most residents of Yehudah and Shomron have “a good relationship” with IDF officers.

Destroying homes in Yitzhar is a serious act, Yogev said — but so is attacking IDF soldiers.

“Harming IDF soldiers is outside the national consensus, outside of what is permitted,” he said. “The IDF protects settlers, including in Yitzhar, and any damage to its officers by outlaws is unacceptable.”