IDF forces, fire and rescue teams and the Israeli Civil Administration arrived on the scene to investigate and offer assistance. An IDF lookout station reported picking up on unidentified figures in the area who were later seen fleeing. Fire and rescue teams have since then managed to overtake the fire.
Human rights organization Yesh Din issued a response to the incident, saying, "For the past two months we have witnessed a wave of violence against the residents of Palestinian villages near Yitzar. If this was indeed arson, it is further proof that Israeli law enforcement agencies are not properly doing their job in the West Bank. The violence will not calm down if there is not a true deterrence, (created—ed) through the protection of Palestinians, effective investigating, prosecuting felons and delivering substantial punishments."
Israeli security forces are reportedly becoming increasingly disgruntled with frequent occurrences in which they are required to separate clashes between hostile Israeli and Palestinian rioters, both of whom are hostile to them in direct confrontations. Such confrontations have become particularly common in and around the settlement of Yitzhar.
In one such recent incident, IDF reservists can be seen imploring the masked Jewish rioters to distance themselves from the area in their attempts to calm tensions. At certain times, the two sides can be seen shoving each other before one soldier simply gives up and stands there as the Jewish extremists throw rocks at him.
At one moment, a Palestinian shepherd is seen bleeding from his face, a wound which he said was the result of being struck by a rock. The soldiers tended to the injured Palestinian at the scene even as he screamed at them in Arabic.
In Yitzhar, however, the residents claimed that the Palestinians made their way onto land near the settlement and deliberately began agitating by lighting fires.
According to that version, which is also supported by scenes in the video, Yitzhar residents made their way to the burning areas with fire extinguishers to prevent the flames from spreading.
“We felt totally helpless,” said the soldiers who experienced the clashes during the last month. “After months of training about how to fight and shoot and on the rules of engagement, no one taught us how to deal with a few 15-year-old Jewish children coming to throw stones at Arabs.”
It didn’t matter what they did, the reservists continued, nothing helped. “In the beginning we managed to push the Arabs back. They know that we can use force against them if we need to. But for the Jewish ones it didn’t matter,” one reservist bemoaned.
“The use of crowd-dispersal measures were insignificant. It was as if they were happy that there were soldiers with them, as if we were protecting them and that they wouldn’t be harmed. So we stand there and in a way we give them legitimacy,” he concluded.
During riots, the soldiers said that one of the troops fired a bullet into the air in an effort to separate them.
“You can’t judge whoever opened fire. None of us know what the hell we are supposed to do in that kind of situation,” one reservist said.
“We came to defend the country and found ourselves dealing with delinquent children who are only forgiven because they have a skullcap. They called us Nazis and stinking Zionists. For what? For fighting a fire with them? For that we have been sent from our studies, work and family to protect their homes?"