IDF: Settlers created provocation
Military officials respond angrily to Bat Ayin residents' conduct, which led to violent clashes in nearby Palestinian village of Umm Safa. 'This is a serious incident. They are harming our routine defense missions,' one source says. Community's rabbi: Settlers show in the air after sensing danger
The Israel Defense Forces arrested four settlers on Saturday evening on suspicion of firing at the village of Umm Safa and causing a commotion, which led to the injury of two Palestinians. Among those detained were two soldiers.
Residents of the West Bank settlement of Bat Ayin said they were not receiving proper protection. Military officials rejected the claims, one of them saying, "We regret the fact that irresponsible elements are imposing unnecessary engagements on the IDF's soldiers, which harm the routine defense missions. This is a serious incident, an unnecessary provocation which put human life in danger."
The settlement's rabbi, Daniel Cohen, said he heard the detainees had fired in order to defend themselves against stone throwers. "We agree that the army should be the one to defend us, but this is not performed sufficiently, and if the army fails to do so we have the right to defend ourselves."
Talking to Ynet, the rabbi said, "I was told that Arabs had arrived there and hurled stones at them, and when they sensed that they were in danger, two soldiers who were in the area fired in the air in order to defend them."
According to the rabbi, "This place is a land belonging to the State and we must be there. We also demand that they bomb the house of the murderer
who carried out the terror attack at our community."
Bat Ayin's residents object to the setting up of a fence around the settlement. "What should be fenced is the village which poses a danger. We are not the source of the problem, they are."
The settlement is still shaken up over the murder
of 13-year-old Shlomo Nativ. "We want to live here and it's our right to live here," says the community rabbi. "The army should be defending us, and if it fails to do so – we must demand it firmly."
Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, said that "the muezzin at the village called on all the nearby villages to come and fight the Jews, and this took place during a previous incident as well, which I personally witnessed. I demand that the defense minister give Bat Ayin the defense measures it needs as soon as possible."
Goldstein noted that after the terror attack which left Nativ dead and another child injured, both the prime minister and the defense minister had called him and promised to take care of security and defensive measures, but that nothing had been done since.
An IDF official said in response, "We are working night and day to guarantee the safety of the area's residents."