Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Thursday authorized the IDF seizure of Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Samaria town of Yitzhar to be extended for another three months.
The yeshiva was initially seized by Border Policemen in April, following clashes between an extreme element in the community and security forces. The cyclical clashes began after a house was destroyed by the IDF, sparking tire-slashings of two IDF cars. In response, four local homes were demolished, triggering clashes with local youths and the destruction of an IDF outpost.
Following a discussion on the issue held Wednesday, Ya'alon commented "we are continuing the unrelenting struggle against nationalistically motivated crime by extremists."
"We will not slacken, and will act with a strong arm against criminal terrorists who act against IDF soldiers, police and innocent Palestinians, and therefore I followed the recommendation of security sources to extend the seizure order on the yeshiva," said Ya'alon.
The minister condemned the acts of vandalism and clashes with the IDF originating with some of the town's residents, saying they "harm the state of Israel and the decisive majority of law-abiding citizens in the settlements. We are in the peak of a wide-reaching process to deal with the root of the phenomenon, and we must not let this kind of terror raise its head."
Ya'alon said the act of seizing the yeshiva was meant to strengthen the position of "the official forces in the community that are interested in ejecting the violent element from their midst."
"Heavy-handedness has the opposite effect"
In response, Yitzhar spokesperson Ezri Tuvi harshly condemned the extension of the seizure.
"We are protesting the decision of the defense minister to extend the occupation of the yeshiva. The decision by Yitzhar residents regarding red lines on everything related to harming security forces is the only influential and restraining factor in calming things in Yitzhar," declared Tuvi.
"The heavy-handed one-sided conduct of the security system only creates the opposite influence, increasing the frustration and the rage in the settlements," argued the spokesperson.
Tuvi clarified "the leadership of the community is not interested in ejecting a single resident, and is shocked by the decision. Just as a reminder, the terror towards Israeli citizens and security forces dwells in the Arab villages, and not in Yitzhar as stated in the Defense Ministry's announcement."
After the yeshiva was initially seized in April, Tuvi likewise contrasted Yitzhar with its neighbors, saying "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."
Yitzhar residents have complained of what they call a campaign of character assassination of the town by certain media outlets in recent months. In response, residents submitted a complaint to the police in early May over incitement to murder against two prominent journalists, who made statements calling for residents of the town to be murdered.