Some 200 settler youth clashed Friday with security forces at a scheduled evacuation of an unauthorized West Bank outpost, Oz Zion, in the Beit El area.
The group had congregated on the hilltop for a Shabbat youth meeting, to be led by Rabbi Dov Lior. Due to the violence, the clearing of the premises, which included tents and other makeshift structures, did not take place.
Two right-wing activists, one of whom was a 16-year-old, were arrested and five border policemen were lightly injured. In addition, two border police vehicles were damaged.
After the incident, the Labor party issued a statement blaming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the clashes. “Such violent incidents are a direct result of Netanyahu’s policy of ‘winking’ at outposts and settlers.” The party called on the premier to “ensure that the laws of the State of Israel are upheld beyond the Green Line.”
Hatnua (The Movement) leader Tzipi Livni also blasted Netanyahu for the Oz Zion scuffle. In a statement, Livni attacked the Likud and Jewish Home parties for creating the type of situation that brought the security forces under attack.
“The extreme right wing’s clashes with soldiers, with the backing of their political rabbis, and the fact that IDF soldiers are forced to subdue this outburst on the Sabbath, should enlighten every mother and father on what these elections are about,” Livni said in a statement.
“The extreme right, which has taken control of Likud and Jewish Home, is clashing with IDF soldiers, doing as it pleases in the territories and forcing the IDF and the police to deal with this instead of security.”
She further criticized hardline Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett by stating the rabbis who led the settlers to clash with the security forces were “Bennett’s rabbis.”
Rabbi Lior is one of the “founding fathers” and “spiritual leaders” of the Jewish Home party, Channel 2 reported.
Last week, Bennett came under fire for claiming during a TV interview that if he were an IDF soldier who was ordered to remove settlers from their homes, he would opt for the path of conscientious objection. His comments, which were viewed as scandalous calls for insubordination within the army, sparked virulent criticism from both sides of the political aisle.
The settlers at Oz Zion accused the police and border security of using violence against them and destroying their tents. In response, the security forces closed the gates of the nearby Givat Assaf outpost. The police claimed the settlers had thrown stones at them and yelled insults.
A backup force of dozens of security personnel, including army and police officers, arrived at the scene to stop the scuffle.
After the police left, the settlers also claimed they had successfully pressured government ministers to stop the planned evacuation because it was Shabbat, YNet News reported.
The IDF said it had postponed the evacuation out of respect for Shabbat. It later stated it would clear the premises Saturday evening, after Shabbat.