Esh Kodesh celebrations
Esh Kodesh celebrations Arutz Sheva photo: Hillel Meir

Jews in the village of Esh Kodesh in Samaria who planned a Torah class on Friday found themselves facing off against an angry Palestinian Authority mob instead. IDF soldiers managed to prevent bloodshed.

The mob, made up of roughly 100 men and youths, was armed “with whatever they could find,” recalled Rafi Fischer, who spoke Sunday to Arutz Sheva. Among the makeshift weapons were metal pipes and clubs, he said.

The small group of Jewish villagers could hear the muezzin (Muslim prayer leader) calling on residents of the nearby PA town of Kusra to join in the attack on Esh Kodesh.

Fortunately, Fischer said, “The army was determined,” and soldiers prevented the PA mob from carrying out a violent attack at the site. The Jewish villagers were evacuated for their own protection, and proceeded to hold the planned Torah class in a nearby town.

While the IDF put a stop to the planned bloodshed, it is also IDF actions that set the mob in motion, Fischer stated. PA Arabs used to leave Esh Kodesh alone, but began attacking the site after seeing the IDF's Civil Administration destroy buildings in the community, he said.

Fischer brought proof for his theory from the PA mob itself . A listserve used by PA residents of Kotzra was found to include statements saying that the Zionist army had destroyed buildings at the site. The statements ended with a declaration, “Today we go up,” he said.

Esh Kodesh was intended as a site for Jewish settlement as many as 30 years ago, he noted.

Fischer and several others who witnessed the attack are not permanent residents of Esh Kodesh, but rather, visitors from elsewhere in Samaria who came to show solidarity with villagers in the face of recent attacks and demolitions. The group plans to continue weekly visits to Esh Kodesh and similar locations despite Friday's attack, he said.