Israeli Army Deploys Border Police Company in Yitzhar

After settlers ransack military outpost, IDF responds by deploying troops in settlement's radical yeshiva.

Gili Cohen
Chaim Levinson
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Soldiers outside Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, Yitzhar, April 11, 2014Credit: Moti Milrod
Gili Cohen
Chaim Levinson

The Israeli army deployed a Border Police company in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar on Friday, after dozens of settlers attacked a military outpost near Yitzhar on Tuesday.

An army source said the troops' deployment site, the "Od Yosef Chai" yeshiva, was chosen because it is a "front base for violent operations against the nearby Palestinian villages and the security services."

The new deployment is most likely the result of a meeting between Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and officials from the IDF, police and Shin Bet, which concentrated on the latest chain of events in Yitzhar. On Sunday, vandals slashed the tires of IDF Colonel Yoav Yarom, commander of the Samaria Brigade, while he was visiting the settlement. When Border Police forces entered the settlement to demolish illegal structures, settlers reacted by throwing stones, torching tires and blocking the road, resulting in clashes with security forces. Six Border Patrol officers sustained light wounds and settlers said four residents were injured as well.

After the incident, dozens of settlers raided a military outpost outside Yitzhar, manned by reserve soldiers there for the settlement's protection. According an initial report, the settlers destroyed military equipment, including tents, portable toilets, heaters and mattresses, while the soldiers stood by.

Yitzhar's spokesperson said the troop deployment inside the yeshiva is "clearly crossing the line," and called on the government to evacuate the troops.

The Od Yosef Chai yeshiva said in response that "this is the first time the State of Israel has closed a house of learning where torah is studied, because of the torah studied there. Turning the school into a military outpost is a desecration of a holy site, as determined by the Jewish Halacha."

About three years ago, the Shin Bet recommended the Education Ministry stop the funding for the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, due to intelligence the organization received according to which rabbis with the yeshiva encourage their students to assault Arabs.

The yeshiva includes several institutions, among them a high yeshiva, a high school yeshiva, a boarding house, a kolel, and a printing press, which published the notorious book Torat HaMelekh, which lists the terms under which it is permissible to kill non-Jews according to the Halacha. The yeshiva is headed by the book's author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira. In 2012 the Education Ministry accepted the Shin Bet's recommendation and closed off the funding.

Israeli Border Police troops outside Od Yosef Chai yeshiva, Yitzhar, West Bank, April 11, 2014.Credit: Moti Milrod

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