Tensions mount between Hilltop Youth, security forces
While successful conclusion of investigation into Duma terror attack ameliorated relations between Hilltop Youth and police and Shin Bet, frequent outpost evacuations, serious terror attacks earlier this year and heavy-handed prison sentences have all contributed to growing tensions.
Shin Bet and the police carried out an extensive wave of arrests in the wake of the deadly terror attack in Duma. They have also endeavored—in conjunction with the army—to evacuate outposts and issue restraining orders and prohibitions against congregating.
Several acts of Jewish terrorism were uncovered during the investigation into the Duma attack, while simultaneously,several youths questioned in the probe reported undergoing difficult experiences in the interrogation room.
Calm was eventually restored to the volatile areas, and the Shin Bet and police continued carrying out the policy of administrative orders and evacuations.
In the 18 months since, however, extremist youths renewed acts of violence once again. Last month, for example, hateful graffiti was sprayed in east Jerusalem's Beit Hanina and in the village of Fara'ata, in the Samaria region of the West Bank, with the latter incident seeing "Stop administrative orders" and "Administrative price tag" inscribed.
This past weekend, a mosque in the village of Aqraba in the Samaria was torched, and graffiti saying "Revenge" and "Price tag" were discovered at the scene. In the villages of a-Lubban ash-Sharqiya and Aswiya, meanwhile, "Deport or kill" and "Stop administrative orders" were sprayed.
Three disparate elements have accelerated the process of escalation in relations between Hilltop Youths and security forces. The first is the increasingly frequent evacuations of hills and outposts by the State. Several significant outposts have been evacuated in the past few weeks, including Maoz Esther, Geulat Zion and Rosh Yosef near Itamar.
"We bother no one," one of the youths said. "We're only in the hills, and then police come, raise a stink over a small wooden structure and bother us."
The second element relates to the serious terror attacks in the West Bank earlier this year, including the shooting attack that claimed the life of Rabbi Raziel Shevah and the stabbing attack that claimed the life of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal at Ariel Junction. Calls of "revenge" were made during the two victims' funerals.
The third element has to do with the strict punishments meted out against Hilltop Youths convicted of hate crimes in what has been dubbed the "Nahliel underground." The youths—found guilty of throwing a grenade into a school in the village of Beitillu and assaulting a Palestinian—were handed down hefty prison sentences.
Police and the Shin Bet are currently staying the course vis-à-vis the administrative order policy, despite growing frictions and danger of further escalation.