Yitzhar rabbi blames ‘establishment’ for settler-soldier clashes

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The “establishment” — the Israeli army and government — is responsible for the current clashes between soldiers and settlers, the head of a settlement yeshiva said.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh released the statement on Friday, addressing the takeover of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar earlier this month by the Israel Defense Forces. Leaders of the settler movement had called on Ginsburgh to condemn recent attacks by Yitzhar residents and yeshiva students on Israeli soldiers and police.

Ginsburgh said he is “distressed by any clash of Jews with Jews — between soldiers and settlers — ‘We are all sons of one man.’ ” But, he added, “it must be stated clearly that the guilty party for this situation is the establishment, which has been behaving with aggression and brute force towards Jews, yet with magnanimousness and lenience towards enemies of the Jewish People.”

Among  Ginsburgh’s objections, according to the statement, was preventing Jews from building in the West Bank and ignoring illegal building by the Palestinians, releasing Palestinian prisoners, and defining “as ‘terror’ and ‘hate crimes’ trivial acts of protest (even arresting minors for spraying graffiti on walls, etc.).”

Early last month, Yitzhar residents attacked an army outpost in the settlement after the demolition of five illegal homes built on the settlement.

Ginsburgh’s statement followed a vote taken last week by members of the Yitzhar community in which more than half the settlement’s adult members voted against violence toward the IDF. The Yitzhar secretariat had threatened to quit if the community did not approve the measure.

A Yitzhar couple was arrested last week for alleged involvement in a “price tag” attack on a mosque in an Israeli-Arab town in northern Israel.

On Sunday, right-wing activists threw rocks at police who came to Yitzhar to search the couple’s home.

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