Top Rabbi Demands Dialogue Before West Bank Outposts Are Demolished

Rabbi Chaim Drukman sends message to Netanyahu conveying concern over clashes between settlers and police that took place after security demolished West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.

A top rabbi in the Religious-Zionist movement urged the prime minister on Tuesday to open dialogue before dismantling West Bank settlements. The comment came a day after police clashed with settlers after the demolishment of a West Bank outpost earlier in the day.

Rabbi Chaim Drukman sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the "land is on fire" after Monday's violent clashes.

Settlers at Havat Gilad outpost
Moti Milrod

"We must start a dialogue to calm the spirits," Drukman said.

Drukman had initially asked to speak directly to Netanyahu but eventually agreed that his message be conveyed to the premier by the head of the Prime Minister's office, Natan Eshel.

The rabbi specifically condemned the security forces' use of rubber bullets during the clashes and said the settlers' were offended when police allegedly acted aggressively with settler women involved in the protest.

He stressed that "a delicate balance has been broken, and before dismantling a tent or a structure, there must be a dialogue."

About a hundred right-wing youth gathered on Jerusalem's main thoroughfare on Monday for a mass demonstration to protest the demolition of illegal structures at a West Bank outpost earlier in the day, clashing with police officers who came to disperse them.

Eight settlers were arrested during violent clashes that erupted after security forces arrived at the Havat Gilad outpost to demolish a family home, the foundations of a new building and a tent structure occupied by five young singles.

Settlers reported that 13 people were lightly wounded after security forces shot rubber bullets at the outpost residents.

The incident sparked fury among rightists and led the young activists to block Begin Road and throw burning tires into traffic.

Drukman added that he discussed the issue with Public Security Minister Aharonovich and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, but that Defense minister Ehud Barak was in fact responsible for the matter.