Daily Israel Report

IDF 'Crosses Lines' by Seizing Yitzhar Yeshiva

IDF places unit in yeshiva it claims is 'front base for violence.' Yitzhar demands forces removed, notes illegal mosque opposite yeshiva.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 4/11/2014, 8:22 AM / Last Update: 4/11/2014, 10:20 AM

New IDF unit in Yitzhar
New IDF unit in Yitzhar
IDF Spokesperson Unit

The IDF caused new fury in the Samaria town of Yitzhar by stationing a border police unit in Yitzhar's Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva (Torah academy) building.

"Due to the violent events towards security forces that occurred in recent days, and in order to give a response to security needs, it was decided by the IDF to place a border police unit in Yitzhar immediately for security needs, to maintain a presence in coordination with local residents," read an IDF statement.

The statement noted that the yeshiva building was selected due to operational considerations, and "given its being a front base for violent acts against surrounding Palestinian villages and security forces."

IDF is "crossing lines"

In response, Yitzhar on Friday morning called on the IDF to immediately remove its troops from the yeshiva.

"A hysteric and historical act of this type is unprecedented since the founding of the state," remarked Ezri Tovi, a spokesman for the town. "Turning a yeshiva into an army base is a clear crossing of lines."

The spokesman added "would a mosque that calls day and night to destroy the state of Israel merit similar treatment? To remind everyone, the yeshiva building looks out on a mosque which has had a destruction order from the Supreme Court on it for many years."

"For some reason the rule of law shows great patience" towards the illegal mosque, noted Tovi. "We call on the government of Israel to immediately leave the yeshiva."

"Desecration of a holy place"

"Turning the yeshiva building into a military post is the desecration of a holy place, as determined by Jewish law," remarked sources from the yeshiva. "The yeshiva at Kever Yosef was expelled in the past, but its voice only grew despite the ongoing harassment."

The source added "now too the yeshiva intends, G-d willing, to continue Torah studies and to make the voice of the Torah heard. We call on all those who love the Torah to protest this crime, and to raise the voice of the Torah until we merit that all the people of Israel walk by its light."

The Education Ministry in 2011 cut funding to the yeshiva, similarly claiming it was a source of violence. At the time, Shomron Regional Council Head Gershon Mesika remarked "there is no proof of this activity, no one has been indicted and the yeshiva has not been allowed to see the accusations - nor has the regional council or anyone else."

Mesika added that security forces "decided to blame the yeshiva" after being unable to find the culprits of local vandalism, noting the move was "reminiscent of Soviet Russia" in shutting down official institutions based on confidential information.

A recap of events

Six residents of Yitzhar have been arrested over the course of dramatic clashes this week between the IDF and a violent element in the town.

The cycle started when IDF Colonel Yoav Yarom found his tires slashed outside the community on Sunday. It is believed the vandalism was carried out in response to security forces tearing down a house last week "for no reason" according to residents, who noted it was built on survey land that was to become state land in a matter of years. One resident reportedly was beaten and handcuffed during the demolition.

While Yarom stressed earlier Tuesday that the Yitzhar residents themselves were helpful and apologized immediately over the vandalism, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu labeled the tire-slashing "terrorism," and shortly thereafter a minor was arrested in Jerusalem over the incident.

On Monday, the minor was released to house arrest, but a possible copycat attack occurred within 24 hours. The IDF declared the move a "red line" and began an investigation into Yitzhar, sparking clashes with residents who are weary of the demolitions and intrusions into their town.

Tuesday morning, the IDF began demolishing four homes in Yitzhar, and in response Yitzhar residents destroyed an IDF outpost.

While noting the attacks on the IDF were unjustified, Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir stated on Thursday "you have to try and look at things from the perspective of these youths. They are there on their hilltop, and forces come to destroy their homes time after time, and on the other side of the wadi, on the opposite hilltop, thousands of homes are being built illegally by Arabs and no one touches them."