Israeli religious leaders fear that a civil war is only a matter of time, following Monday night's settler violence
in the West Bank. Israel's
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger on Tuesday strongly condemned the attack on the Ephraim Brigade commander near the outpost of Ramat Gilad, which left him and his deputy injured.
The chief rabbi called on the law authorities to "use a firm hand against the rioters." According to Metzger, "Damaging IDF property is a horrible defamation of God. Nothing justifies such a violent act, especially when it is directed at the IDF and its soldiers, who sacrifice their lives to protect the people of this country."
Military Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rafi Peretz denounced what he defined as "crimes of revenge of any kind." He clarified that such actions, which spark unnecessary internal wars and harm the foundations of Israel as a sovereign state, must not be forgiven.
Rabbi Peretz added that price tag activities were forbidden by Halacha and that he expected Religious Zionism rabbis to strongly denounce them.
Former Military Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky called on the rabbinical and educational leadership to "Engage in self-examination on a day like this, and check how we reached a situation in which dozens of the sector's youngsters act like hooligans against the spirit of Judaism."
'Sector's youth acting like hooligans.' Attacked base (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
According to Ronsky, "Although we do not support such activity in any way, the State must work to lower the flames, as this may eventually lead to a brothers' war."
The rabbi, who also serves as head of the Itamar yeshiva, added that "this act is unprecedented and is extremely serious. The Jewish rioters put the Ephraim Brigade commander at risk – a fighter who dedicates his life to defend the people of Israel, including the settler public."
Rabbi Ronsky called on settler leaders to convene and decide how to move on, "as this is something we must not ignore."
The Association of Hesder Yeshivot issued a statement of condemnation following the settler riots and attack on IDF commanders.
"Any physical or verbal clash with the IDF, its commanders and soldiers is extremely serious and must be condemned," the association noted. "Whoever did these acts violated the foundation of the Jewish people joint life in its country."
Samaria's Chief Rabbi Elyakim Levanon
condemned the rioters – but also the government. In a conversation with the Kipa website, Levanon accused the government of "using violence under the pretense of democracy."
He slammed the conduct of the government and its leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, "who are toughening their stance, and as a result, prompting extremists to do inconceivable things. There is no reason to threaten to evacuate outpost, while a solution can be reached anywhere.
"This is violence and this is violence," he added. "There is violence against Jews on the part of those young extremists who run wild, and there is the violence of the Israeli government against peaceful and quiet settlers."
Levanon accused the defense minister of "igniting fire".
"When hundreds of young people keep getting warnings of evacuations, this entire public lives in turmoil – and all because of the defense minister's whim to evacuate buildings which don't bother anyone."
The rabbi stressed, however, that "there is no reason to break into a military base. It damages us all, the people of Israel, the settlements and the IDF. We all love the IDF and everyone knows that."