IDF taking off gloves following incident in which two soldiers were injured during clashes with settlers. Senior IDF officer tells Ynet, 'Should God forbid a terror attack occur, they will have some hard questions to ask themselves'
Hanan Greenberg Published: 02.19.10, 08:29 / Israel News
The incident in which two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were injured Wednesday by settlers in Yitzhar sparked uproar in the army which refuses to wane down. An IDF official told Ynet, "The disgraceful conduct of some of the settlers who hurt IDF forces and disrupted routine activity may one day be the ruin of them."
The official was referring to an exercise against terror attacks at the settlement that also included members of the local patrol unit. "It is completely unwarranted that an alertness exercise cannot end as planned due to such behavior and without any condemnation by the (local) leadership."
The official also added, "The riotes are located in a very dangerous area which may erupt into a terror attack at any moment. Instead of helping the soldiers maintain concentration, they do the exact opposite and should, God forbid, a terror attack occur they will have to ask themselves some hard questions."
The testimonies of soldiers who participated in the exercise illustrated a particularly grim picture of the rioters' behavior, some of whom were masked. "Some of them punctured tires with knifes and hurled stones which hurt a soldier's head. They torched tires and blocked the entrance gate into the settlement," one soldier related.
"We came in to perform an exercise to boost the security readiness in the community and got in return this event which left us with a bad feeling" one officer said.
Sources at the brigade described the settlers' behavior as that of "bullies" and noted that it appears as though there's no leadership controling the youths.
A senior IDF officer said that such conduct may even invite terror attacks. "Everyone sees these unnecessary confrontations, including those who want to carry out attacks. It is possible they may use it."
The tentions between IDF forces and settlers at the Nablus area has grown over the last few weeks. It began with the puncturing of tires of the brigade commander's car and continued with ongoing clashes.
The incidents are being investigated by the Judea and Samaria District Police. IDF sources implied that other ways of handling the situation will be considered. "A 17-year-old that deliberately hurts a soldier or prevents a wounded soldier from receiving treatment does not belong in the IDF and when the day comes that issue will be considered too," the senior officer said.
He added that "the soldiers are here on a variety of missions which are not of their choosing. Some of them had difficulties coping with what has been ordered them but they performed their duties impeccably. First and foremost in order to protect the communities and those living in them. The Jewish leadership must come to its senses and stop the lawbreakers."
The settlers on the other hand claimed that the exercise in Yitzhar had not been coordinated with them and said that they thought the forces arrived in order to demolish buildings set up against the freeze orders.
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report
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