The commander of the Samaria Brigade had the tires of his vehicle slashed by unknown assailants in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar Sunday, for the second time in three months.

The vandalism drew fierce condemnation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israel Defense Forces, the local settlement authorities, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who referred to it as “an act of terror in every respect.”

Outgoing commander Col. Yoav Yarom was in the area, along with his successor Col. Shai Kelfer, to meet with settlement leaders regarding clashes between local Palestinians and residents of Yitzhar, a settlement known for harboring hard-line elements in the settler community.

Similar attacks in the past have been blamed on Jewish nationalists who oppose anti-settler actions by the IDF in the territories.

“We will act with zero tolerance against those harming IDF soldiers and commanders,” Netanyahu said. “The assailants will be held accountable for the criminal act.”

Ya’alon described the vandalism as “very severe” and said it will warrant an “unrelenting response against those responsible.”

“In my eyes, this is terror in all respects. We must eradicate this phenomenon and wage an all-out war [against it],” he said. “We will not allow an extreme, marginal, and violent group to lift a finger against the legal authorities, to disrupt our lives, and to threaten IDF soldiers and commanders, and we will act against them with all the measures that the law permits, in order to put them behind bars.”

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said the incident “crossed a red line,” against the soldiers “who protect the citizens of Israel day and night.”

The majority of Yitzhar residents strongly oppose these acts of violence, a statement from the Samaria Regional Council said.

“We expect and encourage the army to catch the two or three punks responsible for these demeaning actions,” the statement said.

The Yitzhar spokesman similarly decried the vandalism, but tied it to last Wednesday’s evacuation of illegal buildings in the settlement, a move condemned by residents.

“We cannot ignore the significant proximity to the criminal destruction of the Lazar family’s home, and the subsequent uproar,” he said. “Across from the commander’s airless tires stands a house, destroyed and ruined.”

The spokesman’s statement concluded with an appeal to the IDF to do everything it can to curb the backlash to last week’s events.

On January 10, Yarom’s jeep tires were tampered with in Yitzhar by unknown assailants. 

Netanyahu and several settler spokespeople condemned that attack.