Anonymous vandals defaced a bus used by Israel Border Police to transport troops enforcing a closed military zone order in a West Bank settlement on Saturday night.
Officers were at the site of the Kumi Ori outpost near the settlement of Yitzhar when two of the vehicle’s tires were punctured and graffiti was sprayed on the bus in Hebrew reading: “Go to the enemy.”
Police officers said they saw several settlers waiting at the entrance to the settlement with rocks in their hands.
“This is another incident in which a small group of lawbreakers are trying to hurt the work of security forces sent to enforce a military order,” the police said in a statement.
“Violence directed at our troops will not affect the determination to carry out their task of enforcing the law and maintaining order,” the statement added.
Kumi Ori has been the epicenter of an escalating conflict between Israeli security forces and Jewish settlers since October, when an Israeli soldier was wounded from a rock thrown at him during clashes with some 30 settlers.
In November, a Border Police vehicle was pelted with stones as it attempted to enter the settlement to enforce the order.
- Cars set ablaze, graffiti scrawled in suspected West Bank hate crime
- Car set ablaze, inciting graffiti sprayed in suspected West Bank hate crimes
- Five settlers arrested on suspicion of attacking Israeli policemen at West Bank outpost
That same month, five settlers were also arrested on suspicion of assaulting police officers attempting to put a stop to illegal construction work at the unauthorized outpost of Maoz Esther.
Former high-ranking officers in Israel's security services have expressed frustration at the phenomenon. “Why play innocent?” Avi Mizrahi, a former chief of Israel's Central Command asked in an interview with Israeli public broadcaster Kan earlier this year.
“There was a very right-wing government here, with part of its base situated there. It didn’t want to adopt extreme measures. As soon as you don’t deal with Yitzhar right at the beginning, since you realize you have no support for doing so, this is what grows,” he said.