About 50 outlaws vandalized an IDF post in revenge for the destruction of illegal structures in the settlement of Yizthar. They destroyed the soldiers' tents, heating gear, diesel fuel facility, toilets and water dispenser.
An entire day has passed since the unusually grave incident and not a single IDF officer, including Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, has publicly condemn the incident. Two former Central Command chiefs that talked to Ynet, however, did not hesitate to blame the authorities
"These incidents are not new," Maj-Gen. (res.) Gadi Shamni said. "The question is why isn't there any deterrence and why are those rioters not afraid? The answer is that they have a strong lobby at the Knesset, and an over the top backup of settlers' local leadership, rabbis and a forgiving court. The issue is not a top priority for the Shin Bet, even though they love to call it 'terrorism.'"
"Why isn't Prime Minister Netanyahu ordering the Shin Bet chief, the police commissioner and the chief of staff to put this on top priority? It's has already been proven that when the defense system truly wants to take care of a problem, it does. So it's rather puzzling to see six reservists facing 50 fanatics," Shamni wondered.
According to him, some of the young outlaws are being used and they become like "Rottweiler dogs, unleashed at the Palestinians and at security forces. This phenomenon should be stopped by cutting funding and back up (to the settlement), the same as we do with terrorists."
Destruction of ilegal structures in Yitzhar (Photo: George Ginsberg)
About two years ago, in a serious incident, settlers entered the IDF's Ephraim Brigade regional division base. Then-Central Command chief Maj.-Gen. (res.) Avi Mizrahi stood in front of the media's cameras, accusing those who support the rioters.
On Tuesday night he told Ynet he believed "the situation in Yitzhar can escalate to shooting soldiers."
"The Yitzhar residents are good and ideological people, but they need to decided to get rid of the young boys and adults that settled on the hills around them and took over the settlement."
An IDF post in Yitzhar destroyed by Settlers (IDF Spokesmen's office)
Mizrahi also commented on the feebleness of the legal system saying that "I've experienced a few times that when I brought Jewish rioters to court and they were released, because judges don't seem to understand that graffiti on Awarta mosque is not the same as the graffiti at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station."
"Other than talking, the politicians are not doing anything. We saw how they released the rioters that were caught near Hebron with gasoline and gloves, and those who were trespassing at Qasr el Yahud near Jericho."
Shamni added that, "According to orders, soldiers are allowed to use live ammunition only if they feel they are in a life threatening situation, which was not the case here, so their decision to avoid using unnecessary force was right. They could have used tear gas and resist the threat with force, the instructions are clear on that, but they were few confronting many."
In regards to the IDF post located in Yitzhar, Shamni noted that this was not the first time that radical activists harassed those serving there, and that for years it has been fair game for far right extremists, because they see it as an IDF setup against them, because it has a vantage point to the rundowns from Yitzhar to the Palestinian plantations, which the settlers tried to vandalize in the past.
The IDF considered removing the post, he said, "but eventually they didn't, which is a good thing, because otherwise it would be surrendering to Jewish terrorism".
The IDF admits that the problem of Jewish terror will not be solved with localized treatment, but rather with the cooperation of all the of the parties involved.
A source from the regional division mentioned that only on Monday the court released the man suspected of slashing the tires of a Samaria Brigade commander's jeep on Sunday. "The soft enforcement policy is far from helping, one can blame the army for the localized treatment of the situation, but an inclusive solution is preferable," said the source.
Menwhile, the Judea and Samaria Division decided that soldiers will no longer stand still during vandalism and violent incidents and will respond with minimal force until the police arrives at the scene. In addition, the police is considering establishing a police station with a permanent police force in Yitzhar.
The soldiers themselves justified their conduct. "It's easy to be critical if you haven't experienced such a traumatic event," said one of the soldiers. "They are coming to attack you, you are trying to be smart and not right in order to keep matters under control. The settlers threatened to set our gear on fire, and since they were many and we were few, it was obvious they were not leaving until they unleashed their rage. We preferred getting out rather than get into a physical confrontation with them. We asked them not to damage our personal belongings, only the military equipment and they complied."