Barak: 'Iron Fist' in Yesha

Defense Minister Barak calls for harsh punishments for Jewish protesters in Judea and Samaria, and the use of British Mandate laws against them.

Maayana Miskin,

Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Israel News Photo: (file photo)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that the government would crack down on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria accused of fighting police and soldiers while the latter destroy Jewish towns. “We're going to punish
The “emergency regulations” would allow security forces to arrest suspects without charges.
extremist elements more harshly,” Barak told Yaron Dekel of government-controlled Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel) Radio.

Barak discussed the destruction of the Federman family farm near Hevron that took place late on Saturday night. As soldiers destroyed the home, hitting the mother and young children and ruining the family's belongings, a bystander angrily said he wished the soldiers destroying the home would be captured in battle. Barak chose to focus on the bystander's statement, saying, “The things that were said are very serious, and we're already working to reign in these phenomena and to stop them with an iron fist if necessary.”

Barak said he would act harshly “because it's not just statements. There, it was statements, in other places it's actions, it's violence against soldiers and policemen.”

"Not all Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are a threat to law and order," Barak said. However, when it comes to those who fight soldiers and police, he continued, such as those who protested the destruction of the Federman farm, “that's clearly an attempt to undermine the state's authority over its civilians, and requires harsh action with no compromises.”

The first step in punishing Jews who protest the destruction of communities lacking government approval will involve using existing punishments more frequently, Barak said. “We'll need to find a way to convince our judges that we're not talking about just another case of interfering with a public official as he performs his duty to national security, but rather an attempt to undermine the state's authority, and therefore these people must be put behind bars,” he explained.

The second step, Barak said, would involve using laws reserved for use in emergency situations; laws which allow the government to take steps that would otherwise be considered undemocratic. “If there won't be a choice, we'll need to consider using the emergency regulations,” he said. The regulations in question “are a remnant of the British Mandate.”

The “emergency regulations” would allow security forces to arrest suspects without charges and without a warrant. “They allow a different course of action, that allows us to [immediately] arrest people who otherwise would not be arrested for another six months, if at all,” he explained. The regulations would only be used if necessary, he added, “in order to secure the state's authority over its citizens.”

Barak did not say whether or not the new, harsher punishments would be used against Israeli leftists who stone border police in protests against the separation barrier as well, or only against the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.