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Daily Israel Report

Police Forces Demolish Four Homes in Yitzhar

Tensions in Yitzhar escalate as police forces demolish more homes. Was it retaliation for 'price tag' attacks?
By Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 4/8/2014, 7:47 AM / Last Update: 4/8/2014, 8:13 AM

Buildings demolished in Yitzhar
Buildings demolished in Yitzhar
Yitzhar community spokesperson's office

Police forces descended on Givat Lehava, in eastern Yitzhar, on Tuesday morning, and began demolishing two caravans and another two partially-completed homes.

According to security sources, residents of the community in Samaria resisted the destruction "in all ways possible." The residents allegedly threw rocks at the demolishing forces. The security sources, for their part, insist that the structures were built illegally and were slated for demolition.

Buildings destroyed in Yitzhar Yitzhar community spokesperson's office

In an additional incident overnight, six border police officers were reported injured in clashes Monday night in the community. One needed medical attention. 

Border Police tent vandalized in Yitzhar overnight IDF Spokesperson's Office
Clashes between Yitzhar residents, police forces Yitzhar community spokesperson's office

Yitzhar community spokesmen have responded to the demolition on Tuesday - with a harsh condemnation. 

"This policy of destruction and collective punishment by authorities against residents of Yitzhar is outrageous," a statement reads. "It is unthinkable that the Israeli government and security forces demolished the homes of innocent people and took revenge due to the illegitimate 'price tag' actions of individuals, as serious as [these acts] are. We urge the security forces and their head to stop this policy and immediately stop the growing cycle of hostility." 

Vicious Cycle

In a similar incident, IDF tore down a new house last week belonging to Avi and Shoshana Lazar. The Lazar family was due to move into their new home this week with five children.

The events surrounding last week's demolition appear to be linked to the timing for this one. Local residents see a tit-for-tat link between two "price tag" attacks in the area, and the decision to destroy more structures. 

On Sunday, the tires of IDF Samaria Brigade Commander Colonel Yoav Yarom's jeep were slashed. A suspect, 16, was arrested Monday in Jerusalem. He studies in a yeshiva [Torah academy] in the Old City of Jerusalem. With assistance from the rights group Honenu, he has been released on house arrest. 

In the meantime, another act of vandalism on an IDF vehicle was reported Monday night in Yitzhar, in an incident almost identical to Sunday's. The IDF stated that the action had "crossed a red line" and that a police and IDF investigation was being launched over the incidents. 

Condemnations Continue

As of late Monday night, Yitzhar community spokesmen had also condemned the latest vandalism incident. 

"We disapprove of this act," said a spokesman for the community. "There is no legitimacy to causing damage to the vehicles of reservists."

Meanwhile, top politicians continue to condemn the incidents. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had harshly condemned Sunday’s incident, and used language that is usually reserved for terrorist murderers in reaction.

"We will act with zero tolerance against whoever harms the IDF or its commanders,” vowed Netanyahu. “The terrorists will pay the price for their criminal act.” 

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) also condemned the attack, calling "price tag" vandalism "an anti-Zionist crime." 

Tuesday morning, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) also joined the chorus of critical voices. 

"I do not know who you are and what you think you are," Bennett wrote to the anonymous tire-slasher, in a Facebook post. "IDF soldiers do not deserve to protect you, and you do not deserve their protection." He added that he was "sad, more than angry" and "thinking about [Colonel] Yoav." 



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