Yitzhar Yeshiva Reopened with Limited Access
Samaria Brigade commander, Colonel Yoav Yarom, announced Tuesday that the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva (Torah study academy) which was seized by government forces in Yitzhar two weeks ago will now be open for limited access.
Access to the yeshiva, the statement reads, will be limited to roughly fifty worshippers at a time. Study times and prayer service times will also be coordinated through Brigade officials - not the institution's religious leadership.
Yarom also said that requests to allow more than fifty worshippers at the site will be subject to review.
Yitzhar was the center of dramatic clashes between the IDF and an extremist element in the town earlier this month, which began after Yarom found his tires slashed outside the community. 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. 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.
Later that week, the IDF and other security forces began demolishing homes in the small Samaria community, as extremist youths vandalized IDF outposts. Politicians from all sides of the political spectrum condemned the attacks and many have stressed that the greater Yitzhar community is not behind the extremists.
The IDF and Border Police stormed Od Yosef Chai yeshiva several days later, shutting it down and turning it into a base for two months, prompting a severe outcry from the wider religious community. Yitzhar residents have accused Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of targeting the community in a form of collective punishment.