Settlers Attack Border Police During Demolition in Israeli Settlement of Yitzhar

Forces report clashes with hundreds of settlers as they demolish illegal structures in West Bank settlement; six officers wounded.

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Demolished structures in Yitzhar, April 8, 2014.Credit: IDF Spokesperson

Hundreds of settlers clashed with Border Police who enterered the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar overnight Tuesday to demolish illegal structures.

Forces were confronted by hundreds of violent settlers who threw rocks, burned tires and blocked streets. Security forces responded with riot dispersal methods. Six Border Police officers were wounded by rocks; two required hospitalization.

Four structures were demolished and one was confiscated. Two of them were inhabited.

According to a military official, hundreds of settlers took part in the clashes. A group of settlers also attacked a guard post in the settlement of reservists responsible for the residents' security. According to witnesses in the area, settlers vandalized the bathroom, punctured a water line and tore up mattresses.

The IDF said in a statement that it sees any damage to its security forces, who are doing their job and enforcing the law, as a grave incident.

In a statement issued by Yitzhar, residents said "the policy of demolition and collective punishment by authorities against residents is disturbing. The Israeli government cannot demolish the homes of innocent people as revenge for other isolated illegitimate incidents, as grave as they may be. We call on the security establishment and its leader to stop this policy immediately."

Four Yitzhar residents were lightly wounded.

On Sunday, vandals in Yitzhar slashed the tires of IDF Colonel Yoav Yarom, commander of the Samaria Brigade, while he was visiting the settlement.

The incident took place while Yarom was conducting a tour with his replacement, Colonel Shai Kleper, and is the second time his tires have been slashed in Yitzhar.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon commented on the incident: "In Yitzhar, as opposed to other settlements, there are violent individuals. Not everyone in Yitzhar is violent," he said, adding that residents will have to "obey the law like every other Israeli citizen."

"We will not allow a marginal, violent, extreme group take the law into their hands, disrupt our lives and threaten IDF commanders and soldiers. We will act against them with the full force of the law," Ya'alon said.

Following the incident Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We will act with zero tolerance against whoever harms IDF soldiers and their commanders. The assailants will pay for their criminal acts."

Settlers arrested in Yitzhar in the West Bank, April 30, 2013.Credit: Hadar Cohen