In closed-door remarks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly called settlers who attacked and destroyed an army post in Yitzhar “a bunch of barbarians,” and he was personally involved in the decision to close down a yeshiva at the West Bank settlement and declare it a military zone.
According to a report Friday by Israel’s Channel 10, Netanyahu used the harsh language — albeit not publicly — to condemn the settlers who carried out the attack last week, injuring soldiers on reserve duty and damaging IDF property and equipment.
Netanyahu was also said to have been involved in the decision to deploy Border Police to the West Bank settlement and take over the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva building.
Earlier Friday, police released four of the Israelis arrested this week on suspicion of attacking the army post adjacent to Yitzhar, located near the West Bank city of Nablus.
According to Israeli media, one suspect was released after IDF reservists did not recognize him as one of the settlers involved in Tuesday’s incident. Earlier on Friday, the Jerusalem District Court ordered the release of three other suspects and instructed them to stay away from Yitzhar. Three others were let go on Thursday.
Thus only one of the eight people arrested earlier this week by the police for vandalizing the IDF encampment remained in police custody as of Friday evening.
On Thursday night, a Border Police company took over the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva building in the settlement, as security forces continued to take steps against violent acts originating from the community.
According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the structure was selected “based on security needs to prevent violence and vandalism targeting security personnel and the adjacent villages originating from the yeshiva.”
Classes in the yeshiva building were suspended indefinitely.
Sources from the yeshiva called the move “a desecration of a holy place,” according to Israel National News.
“The yeshiva was kicked out of Joseph’s Tomb in the past, but it’s voice is growing stronger despite the government’s ongoing harassment.”
The move, approved by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, came after three days of increasingly violent confrontations this week between residents of the settlement and security forces that culminated early Tuesday morning in residents raiding an IDF command post near the settlement after security forces pulled down a number of illegal buildings.
Army reservists stationed in the settlement failed to turn back a rioting mob of dozens of settlers, who demolished their post and equipment in a violent predawn incident.
The settlers were protesting the overnight demolition of five illegal buildings in the West Bank community. The attack began just after the five structures were demolished by soldiers and policemen, according to police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
Some 50 Jewish rioters then attacked the military headquarters in the settlement in an attempt to tear the structure down. They also hurled stones, burned tires and slashed tires on vehicles, police said.
During the melee the settlers threatened the soldiers, all reservists, telling them to stand aside to avoid getting hurt. They then began to destroy army property in the settlement.
Eight people, including six Border Police guards, were injured. All of the military equipment at the site was destroyed, including tents, heating equipment, a toilet, and a water tank.