soldiers returning to a military tent set up in the West Bank
were surprised to discover it was stolen by settlers from the nearby Yitzhar
The tent, which was pitched in order to deter Palestinians
and prevent them from establishing an outpost in the area, was returned by Yitzhar's leadership to the IDF, which termed the incident as "crossing of all the lines."
The tent was pitched over the weekend between the Palestinian village Urif
and Yitzhar as a preventative measure, following intelligence that the Palestinian Popular Committees intends to re-establish an illegal outpost near the settlement.
Wrecked housing in Yitzhar (Archives) (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
A few weeks ago a Palestinian outpost
was erected in the same area, and was evicted following violent clashes between its occupants, settlers and the security forces.
As soon as the military tent was erected, some settlers arrived at the area to express their displeasure with the IDF presence, stemming from several evictions
in Yitzhar over the last year and their objection to soldiers residing on the settlement's grounds.
But verbal opposition proved to be merely an entrée. The soldiers left the tent, making it appear as if it was manned in order to deter Palestinians. Upon their return, the troops discovered that settlers had taken advantage of their absence to steal the tent.
The IDF turned to several of Yitzhar's prominent community figures and to the Samaria Regional Council and the tent was returned. The tent's poles and other equipment are still missing.
"It's a very serious affair, even beyond the theft," said a high ranking officer in the Judea and Samaria Division.
"Yitzhar has a handful of violent outlaws and we'll do everything to continue and enforce the law and imprison those who deserve it," he added.
According to the officer, the incident is part of a general trend. "These people cause damage in several areas, first of all, when they repeatedly harm villages in the area," he said.
"Eventually there will be payback, and that's a burden on security. Even worse, they damage the settlement by tainting its image."
The Yitzhar settlement said in response: "We see no need to make a mountain out of a molehill – this is a youthful act by several teens that dismantled an empty IDF tent and left it nearby. The settlement's administration has promptly returned it to the military."
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