Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday approved the extension of the IDF’s seizure of a radical Jewish learning center in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar by three months, saying the military’s presence in the building helped reduce settler violence.
A Border Police detachment was stationed in the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva building in April, after a string of attacks on Israeli military personnel by local settlers. The officers have been stationed there for the past two months in a bid to prevent violence and vandalism against security staff and the surrounding Palestinian villages.
Ya’alon accepted recommendations by defense officials to extend the seizure order on the building by an additional three months. He said in a statement that the security establishment was “continuing with the uncompromising struggle against the nationalistic crimes of radicals.”
“We shall not stand idle and will continue to act with a heavy hand against those criminal terrorists who act against IDF soldiers, police officers and innocent Palestinians, and therefore I accepted the recommendations of defense officials to extend the seizure of the yeshiva,” Ya’alon said in a statement released by the Defense Ministry.
Ya’alon said that the violence against soldiers exhibited by radicals from Yitzhar in recent months didn’t reflect Jewish values, and harms the state of Israel and the majority of law-abiding West Bank settlers. He noted that the seizure of the yeshiva was having a positive impact in quelling settler violence in the area.
“Seizure of the yeshiva by security forces has had a positive and restraining influence on everything concerning the reduction of the level of violence in Yitzhar and its surroundings,” Ya’alon said.
In early April, an enraged mob protesting the demolition of five illegal buildings in the area of Yitzhar stormed an army post in the settlement. The attack was preceded by several acts of vandalism against IDF vehicles in and around Yitzhar.
According to a military source, the settlers threatened the reservist soldiers and told them to stand aside to avoid injury. Eight people, including six border guards, were injured. All of the military equipment at the site was destroyed, including tents, heating equipment, a toilet, and a water tank.
In the wake of that attack, a Border Police company was positioned in the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva building in Yitzhar.
At the beginning of May, radicals attacked police who were dispatched to investigate suspects believed to be involved in a “price tag” attack against Arabs in the Israeli town of Umm al-Fahm.