Settler Violence Against IDF Soldiers Stirs Uproar

Military jeep

A group of some 30 West Bank settlers hurled stones at Israel Defense Forces troops early Sunday and slashed the tires of a military jeep. One soldier was treated at the scene for minor wounds.

The army said that the troops fired warning shots in the air and dispersed the attackers.

Sunday’s clash was the latest in a series of incidents near the settlement of Yitzhar in recent days. Previously, masked youngsters assaulted left-wing activists in the area with crowbars. In a separate incident, settlers confronted and threatened an IDF commander.

Police subsequently arrested a suspect in connection with the threats. Another settler was arrested earlier on suspicion of arson.

Settler Leader Slams Violence

The settler violence drew sharp condemnations from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that there would be “no tolerance to lawbreakers who raise a hand against our soldiers.”

Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz called for an “uncompromising response and wide-ranging action to arrest the Jewish terrorists.” Knesset Member Ayelet Shaked (New Right) called the incident a “disgrace” and said that the teenagers involved should be punished.

The attack on the IDF soldiers also sparked anger among settler leaders. Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, wrote on Facebook that the incident was “grave and unacceptable.” The youngsters involved were not residents of Yitzhar and were promptly kicked out of the community, he said.

Yitzhar residents also organized a rally near a military base to express their support for IDF soldiers and condemn the violence.

In an official statement, the IDF denounced the physical and verbal abuse directed at troops by settlers.