'Bulldozing Homes in the Middle of the Night - That's Terrorism'
MKs, Ministers, religious leaders and community leaders in Judea and Samaria have been swift to condemn the small faction of extremists in Yitzhar who were involved in recent clashes with the IDF, and have pointed out that the minority does not represent the majority of the residents of the town.
But Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, Founder of the Temple Institute, has condemned what he terms the "voices of incitement" fired at the community earlier this week.
"We heard the voices of incitement against the settlers, against the children they call 'terrorists," Rabbi Ariel stated, in an interview with Arutz Sheva. "As opposed to those who harm the Torah of Israel and Jewish ethics, then the people of Israel are silent."
Rabbi Ariel notes that Yitzhar, like many communities in Judea and Samaria, is built close to ancient villages where the Jews first settled when they came to Israel.
"Approximately 3,300 years ago the people of Israel crossed the Jordan River, with the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle and then went to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, near Yitzhar," he said. "They built an altar and expressed their commitment to the Torah of Israel."
"Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook always said that Shechem and Hevron are ours," he continued. "Even today, when we hear the phrase 'they took the law into their hands,' let's not get confused here - and I'm willing for them to put me in jail, they've already put me there before: the only law in Israel is the law of the Torah."
Ariel continued that since the Jews return to their country after centuries in exile "by virtue of the Torah", "therefore, whoever [disdainfully] says that someone who 'takes the law into their hands' is a vigilante is wrong and misleading. We are committed to the laws of the Torah and those who came to demolish homes in Yitzhar in the middle of the night go against the laws of the Torah."
Rabbi Ariel supported the Yitzhar community at large during the interview, and chose not to address the destruction of the army post and attacks on IDF personnel by fringe groups.
"Tzipi Livni's father fought against the British because he wanted to go to Israel, has she called him a terrorist? Now his daughter wants to impose British law so the Jews don't settle Shechem, Hevron, and Yitzhar."
Rabbi Ariel also had strong words for the current leadership.
"[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu has done much for the country, but he has no right to destroy it and give it to the Palestinians, or freeze construction," he said. "This is not the land of Binyamin Netanyahu or his father, and they have no permission to give it away."
Regarding to their attitude to the extremists in Yitzhar, "they say they are terrorists more than Hezbollah - it is shameful to hear Israeli leaders talk like children," Ariel stated. "Those who expelled Gush Katif... who vacated Yamit [in the Sinai Peninsula - ed.] with violence, those who threw a family in the middle of the night from their home in Yitzhar, are terrorists."
"I liberated the Temple Mount, I was injured by shrapnel, so they should not tell me stories," said Rabbi Ariel, who took part in the IDF paratrooper operation which liberated Judaism's holiest site in 1967. "The government here is engaging in acts of violence, they are the dangerous ones who don't know what they are doing. These 'terrorists' are good, nice boys."
Rabbi Ariel insisted that the people of Yitzhar would be remembered positively in the annals of Jewish history, but that in contrast "in another 50 years no one will remember Binyamin Netanyahu - only these people, who built the settlements enterprise."