Defense Minister Calls for Order After Yitzhar Rioting

April 8, 2014  

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) emphasized the need for order on Tuesday, in light of dramatic demolitions and rioting in Yitzhar.  

“Unlike the rest of the settlements, there are violent elements in [Yitzhar],” Ya’alon stated. He was quick to clarify, however, that “not all residents of Yitzhar are violent” and that the statement was confined to “incidents with the Samaria Brigade Colonel’s car.” 

Despite this, he said that the incident cannot be overlooked. “We cannot allow these, and other factors which can cause damage to Jewish communities [in Judea and Samaria] through their violence [. . .] to lift a hand against IDF soldiers, Border Policemen, or Israeli police.”

Ya’alon did not relate to the demolition orders in Yitzhar, which was reeling Tuesday after security forces demolished four homes. 

Cycle of Violence?

On Sunday, the tires of IDF Samaria Brigade Commander Colonel Yoav Yarom’s jeep were slashed. A suspect, 16, was arrested Monday in Jerusalem. He studies in a yeshiva [Torah academy] in the Old City of Jerusalem. With assistance from the rights group Honenu, he has been released on house arrest. 

In the meantime, another act of vandalism on an IDF vehicle was reported Monday night in Yitzhar, in an incident almost identical to Sunday’s. The IDF stated that the action had “crossed a red line” and that a police and IDF investigation was being launched over the incidents. 

Outraged Yitzhar residents clashed with security forces on Monday night, escalating tensions in the small Samaria community.

In a similar incident, IDF tore down a new house last week belonging to Avi and Shoshana Lazar. The Lazar family was due to move into their new home this week with five children.

The events surrounding last week’s demolition appear to be linked to the timing for this one. Local residents see a tit-for-tat link between two “price tag” attacks in the area, and the decision to destroy more structures. 

The riot allegedly justified the demolition of the four homes, beginning a cycle of demolition and violence which MKs have urged the government to stop.

Calls for Calm 

MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) told Arutz Sheva Tuesday that – like Ya’alon stated – the most urgent issue, at the moment, is maintaining clam. He stressed that, by and large, most residents of Judea and Samaria 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.” 

The MK called for security forces to apprehend those responsible. “The Yitzhar community is almost entirely opposed to these actions and calls to handle the situation – but not by collective punishment,” he stressed. “They should find the perpetrators, if necessary to stop the violence, and then stop them [the individuals].” 

“The situation is escalating, unfortunately” he lamented. “The ‘price tag’ on both sides needs to cease –  both the security system and the residents of Yitzhar are responsible.” 

“I told this to the spokesman and secretary of Yitzhar: the people who do this – who destroy IDF outposts – need to understand that this is not how we do things, you have to work inside [the system], because these [incidents] harm the entire State of Israel and the Jewish people,” he concluded. 

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