Speaking from Beijing in the course of a state visit to China, President Shimon Peres on Wednesday joined the chorus of condemnation against settlers from the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank, who on Tuesday rioted and attacked security forces after four of their illegally built homes had been destroyed by border police.
Peres was sharply critical of the acts of vandalism against soldiers who were in the area to protect the settlers.
“From the very creation of the state, the Israel Defense Forces have been the nation’s most treasured asset and an irresponsible group should not be permitted to harm them”, declared Peres.
The president recalled that when the state was founded, there was total national consensus with regard to attitudes to the IDF whose soldiers were risking their lives in defense of the country. It was an accepted norm that no-one would raise a hand or a voice against the IDF, he said. “The IDF was always the most unifying factor”.
Peres said that he was shocked to hear that such a dangerous and irresponsible group wants to damage that which is so dear to Israel and so vital to its continued existence in terms of national pride and self respect..
The nation must unite against negative phenomena of this kind, and put a stop to it, Peres asserted. Actions of this kind were unknown in the past and should not be allowed to continue in the future, he added.
It is impossible to evaluate the extent of the damage which such behavior has caused not only to Israel’s security but also to national unity, said Peres who urged all Israelis to work towards national unity and to demonstrate responsibility by not allowing a small extreme group to become the rotten worms in Israel’s security.