Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

24 Teves 5765 - January 5, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Tensions Rise as Troops and Settlers Clash

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

The struggle is intensifying as for the first time on Monday a uniformed soldier, who was not on active duty, called upon his comrades not to obey their orders, and another soldier fired his weapon into the air during incidents with settlers.

About 200 police officers, along with Border Police and soldiers from the Paratroop Brigade, clashed with about the same number of settlers who tried to block the security forces and IDF bulldozers from entering Yitzhar and the separate adjacent outpost.

The outpost, Shalhevet, also called Givat Lehava, is legal. However, two months ago settlers brought in two trailers that were not authorized, and the IDF issued an evacuation order.

As the IDF forces approached, the settlers poured oil on the road leading to the settlement and parked their cars to block the entrance to the community. Several army and police vehicles were damaged.

Soldiers and settlers pushed and shoved each other, and settlers also threw stones at the soldiers and hurled insults at them. According to several reports, settlers called the evacuating forces "Nazis." There were periodic pauses as Colonel Yuval Bazak, commander of the Samaria Brigade, attempted to negotiate with the settlers. When his efforts failed, soldiers and police approached the trailers on foot and destroyed them with hammers and axes instead of removing them as originally planned.

One of those arrested during the clashes was an IDF soldier who lives at Yitzhar. He was home from the army, but wore his uniform when he joined the other settlers in disrupting the evacuation. The soldier, Yossi Pilmet, apparently urged the other soldiers to refuse to participate in the evacuation. Army sources said that he will face disciplinary charges. Police arrested him and he was to be brought to Military Police where he faces a court martial. He is currently serving in the standing army in Samaria.

After the incident, residents of Yitzhar issued a statement demanding that the soldiers leave the area immediately. The IDF responded that it was already planning to transfer the soldiers from the post near Yitzhar to another base near the nearby settlement of Itamar, due to the increasing friction between settlers and soldiers at Yitzhar. The army said the soldiers would be transferred within a week.

A few hours after the incident, a soldier fired in the air. He said that he had seen a girl trying to puncture the tires of an army vehicle and tried to stop her when he was jumped by about 10 settlers, some of them armed, who tried to take his weapon. One of the settlers pointed his weapon at him, the soldier said, and others hit him; he therefore felt threatened and fired to scare them off.

The settlers said that the girl was 12 years old, and when the soldier pointed his weapon at her, a Yitzhar resident, Ephraim Ben Shohat, jumped him. They said the soldier acted violently and endangered their lives by opening fire. Yitzhar Spokesman Yigal Amitai said that Ben Shohat acted correctly and prevented a stupid mistake that could have turned into a tragedy.

The soldier's commanders said that they believe his version of the incident.

About two weeks ago, after soldiers attempted to prevent the hookup of the mobile homes at Shalhevet to running water, settlers turned off the water supply to the army post and punctured the tires of the company commander.

According to a report in Ha'aretz, the Israel Defense Forces' General Staff wants the legal establishment to start cracking down on Israelis who use violence against soldiers and policemen in the territories.

Police Monday night released all 15 of the settlers it arrested during the clashes, including two minors, and they have not yet decided if they will press charges.

Despite the efforts of the pro-settlement activists, an IDF spokesman said that the whole incident took no more than three hours. Previous evacuation attempts in which police and soldiers faced as many as 1,000 resisters have been known to take upwards of 12 hours.

The army had been very careful to keep its plans secret. Settler activists constantly monitor the press and even most police and IDF radio frequencies.

In other news, as we go to press there is no word if the political deal that the UTJ politicians struck with the Likud will be approved by the rabbonim.


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