IDF seizes Yitzhar Yeshiva (file)
IDF seizes Yitzhar Yeshiva (file) Yitzhar

Yitzhar residents are frustrated with the heavy restrictions still being placed on community activities - over eight months after a series of clashes between a small group of extremists and the IDF placed the local yeshiva (Torah academy) under government control. 

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.

In the interim, yeshiva activities have been moved to a different complex, and students may only enter the original building at certain times and for very short periods. 

But the community has been utterly quiet, resident Ezri Toby stated to Walla! News Saturday night - and many feel that the Israeli government is being especially hard on the small Samaria community, simply because they are "settlers." 

"For years, there's been a very selective enforcement of the law against 'settlers,' and [the government] has enacted sanctions solely against us," Toby stated.

Toby noted that there is a distinct double-standard in Judea-Samaria.

"There are a lot of local mosques which call to attack and destroy Israel, but no one has even heard of a single attempt to occupy or close the mosque or destroy any buildings there," he said. "No one thinks to act against leftist organizations operating against Israel, calling for boycotts and sending funds to foreign governments [to support a Palestinian state]." 

Toby noted, specifically, that several buildings have been destroyed in Yitzhar - but no such call has been made to the rampant illegal building in Judea-Samaria. 

"These administrative orders are given solely against us, demolishing buildings without government sanction in a way not seen anywhere else," he stressed. Usually, when the state decides to demolish a Jewish home, they give the families a notice ahead of time to allow them time to relocate or even appeal.

However, in Yitzhar, "none of the residents who have had their homes destroyed have ever seen a demolition order," according to Toby. 

"The feeling is that we are all being treated as second-class citizens, and the control over the yeshiva is a direct continuation of discriminatory conduct against us," he continued. "Without a doubt and unequivocally I say that the government is chasing after its citizens."

He claims that the media has reinforced stereotypes and discrimination against Yitzhar as well.

"There is a legitimacy in the media to how they act against us," he said. "If Ya'alon would dare to occupy a mosque, he would know what to expect in terms of headlines the next morning. Obviously they would stigmatize him for what he would have done, even if he was running against one of the leftist organizations."

"[Nonetheless,] it would produce a media storm," he added. "As a side effect, this produces legitimacy to continue to act selectively against us. "

He said residents of Yitzhar are not a real danger to Israel, and derided the Israeli media for focusing on the work of a small band of extremists instead of leftist NGOs, who operate on the grand scale.

"Everyone understands that there is no real danger here, that this is not something that endangers the country and that could bring about a coup," he said. "All of this is the work of a few teenagers, and everyone knows it. Maybe they get backing from certain rabbis but nothing beyond that."

Toby questioned why one Jew throwing one rock in several months gets more media coverage than the attacks Yizthar residents have reportedly suffered on a regular basis from their Palestinian Arab neighbors. 

"If you want to cover the issue, do so - but from both sides," he urged. "The Arabs live here in freedom and the Jews face danger every day."