Daily Israel Report

Uri Ariel Calls on Defense Minister to Stop 'Punishing' Yitzhar

Ariel clarifies that while extremist activity in Yitzhar 'violates the spirit of Judaism,' so does taking over yeshiva - and it must stop.
By Hezki Ezra
First Publish: 4/13/2014, 1:39 PM

Uri Ariel
Uri Ariel
Flash 90

Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home/Bayit Yehudi) sent a strongly worded letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon Sunday protesting the IDF's takeover of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva (Torah study academy) in Yitzhar. 

"First of all, the actions of the [extremist] individuals who live in Yitzhar are immoral, violate the spirit of Judaism and should be condemned and acted against even more severely [then they have already]," Ariel began. "Therefore I ask and demand that you arrest suspects, complete a detailed investigation and use it to bring them to the Israeli court system, which will decide whether they are guilty or not."   

"I'm very familiar with the security establishment and their responsibilities and I have full confidence that you can rely on the legal system to try and sentence the perpetrators," he added. 

Ariel qualified his statements, however, with a fierce condemnation of Ya'alon's infringing on Torah-related activities in Judea and Samaria as "punishment" for recent events in Yitzhar. 

"The situation now, where you have forced your responsibility onto administrative areas - including taking a yeshiva and canceling a Passover event in Homesh - are absolutely against democracy and the spirit of Judaism and they must stop immediately, before the Passover holiday," he said.  

Yitzhar has been the center of dramatic clashes between the IDF and an extremist element in the town over the past week, which began after IDF Colonel Yoav Yarom found his tires slashed outside the community. Yarom stressed to Arutz Sheva Tuesday that the Yitzhar residents themselves were helpful and apologized immediately over the vandalism.

However, the situation snowballed quickly, after officials labeled the tire-slashing a "terrorist act," and a minor was arrested in Jerusalem on suspicions of participating in the attack.

On Monday, a minor was released to house arrest; however, a possible copycat attack 24 hours later drove tensions over the edge. The IDF declared the move a "red line" and began an investigation into Yitzhar; the raid caused intense clashes between local residents, who are weary of frequent raids and demolitions of private property, and police forces.

Tuesday morning, the IDF and other security forces began demolishing homes in Yitzhar, as extremist youths vandalized IDF outposts. Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have condemned the attacks - albeit for different reasons - and many have stressed that the greater Yitzhar community is not behind the extremists

Since then, more suspects have been arrested in the clashes - but security forces also stepped up their aggression. The IDF and Border Police stormed Od Yosef Chai yeshiva on Friday, shutting it down and turning it into a base for two months, prompting a severe outcry from the wider religious community.

Outrage has been directed at Ya'alon, and the Yitzhar community has released an open letter demanding their civil rights.