IDF, far-right settlers clash over razing of illegal houses in the West Bank
The tension between Israeli security forces and locals in the Samaria settlement of Yitzhar appears to be simmering Tuesday morning, just hours after a contingent of IDF soldiers, policemen, and Border Police personnel clashed with residents and activists who hurled stones and vandalized military jeeps in protest of the razing of illegally built structures, according to Army Radio.
Before dawn Tuesday, security forces descended on Yitzhar, which is just south of the Palestinian city of Nablus, and destroyed four buildings and confiscated a caravan which authorities determined were built without a permit. According to Army Radio, the clashes were more violent than the norm, with settlers and their supporters hurling stones, burning tires, and slashing tires of jeeps.
The razing of the structures took place just hours after vandals targeted an IDF jeep for the second time in two days in Yitzhar on Monday. The jeep's tires were slashed in what security forces suspect was a far-right attack.
On Sunday, the tires of an army jeep, belonging to Samaria Brigade Commander Col. Yoav Yarom, were slashed.
"The IDF takes a grave view of any harm caused to army commanders and soldiers, conscripts or reserves, who work day and night to defend the residents of the state of Israel," the IDF Spokesman Unit said. It condemned the latest incident as "the crossing of a red line."
A spokesperson for the Yitzhar settlement, which is considered one of the more ideologically extreme clusters of religious Jews in the disputed territories, told Army Radio: “The [government’s] policy of destruction and 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 price tag and revenge for the grave acts committed by a few people.”
“As part of its effort to enforce law and order in Judea and Samaria, the army undertook operations to confiscate and destroy five illegally built structures in Yitzhar,” the IDF tweeted on its Hebrew Twitter.
“During the course of the operation, hundreds of settlers were engaged in violent and disorderly acts that included the hurling of stones, the burning of tires, and the blocking of roads,” the army spokesperson tweeted. “The security forces used crowd-dispersing methods.”
“After the operation, a military post was attacked by settlers,” the army said. “We take a grave view of any attempt to harm the security forces, who came to the area to do their job and enforce law and order.”