IDF Fears Battle as Extremist Settler Violence Escalates

Number of violent confrontations between the army and settlers in and around Yitzhar has jumped, with extremist throwing stones and bottles at troops.

There has been an uptick in violent confrontations between the army and Israeli settlers  recently in and around the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, an army source recently told Haaretz.

Israeli security forces scuffling with Jewish settlers

The official at the Israel Defense Forces' Central Command said this week there had been recent incidents involving stones and bottles being thrown at military vehicles in the area. This follows rioting on Independence Day last month when IDF forces tried to enforce an order declaring a site adjacent to Yitzhar a closed military zone.

In that disturbance, settlers threw bottles, rocks and light bulbs that injured a soldier and a border policeman. The settlers complained at the time that IDF troops were harassing them and said their actions were taken in self-defense.

Following that confrontation, GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi issued orders stepping up IDF enforcement efforts in the area.

A special border police command post was established there and the IDF's Civil Administration was instructed to increase efforts to combat illegal construction around Yitzhar.

The army also pursued enforcement of demolition orders against a structure housing the "Od Yosef Hai" yeshiva located in the settlement.

'Baseless' traffic tickets

The settlers have complained that they are being issued baseless traffic tickets and that frequent arrests are being carried out without cause.

Ehud Studenia, the deputy chairman of the Samaria regional council, to which Yitzhar belongs, told the Arutz Sheva news Web site that despite the arrests, not a single charge has been filed against the settlement's residents.

Studenia added that three residents had also been removed from the area by administrative order without an opportunity to respond to Shin Bet security service allegations.

An IDF Central Command source said the violence has continued since Independence Day.

A bottle of paint was thrown at an IDF vehicle in the area last week, spikes were strewn on roads in the settlement in an attempt to damage border police vehicles and stones were thrown at a passing army vehicle.