Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the firebombing attack on Thursday of a Border Police jeep, allegedly executed by Jewish extremists, which security forces immediately designated as a “terrorist attack.” The incident occurred at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar south of Nablus, a community of 1,635 that has been the site of numerous clashes between extremist Jewish youth and security forces. “Throwing Molotov cocktails at security forces fulfilling their mission of protecting Israeli citizens is a very serious terrorist incident," IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said, adding that it is a violation of the nation’s character and subverts its institutions.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of calling it a terrorist attack."I strongly condemn the severe violence that was perpetrated against a Border Police force overnight. The security forces guard all of us," Netanyahu said. “This would be criminal at any time but it is doubly criminal at this time when the Border Police and Police are helping us get through the corona crisis.” During the brief attack, a number of Molotov cocktails were thrown at the vehicle, one of which damaged it. None of the three officers inside were injured.The officers had just served an injunction declaring the Kumi Uri outpost, on the outskirts of Yitzhar, to be a closed military zone.Security forces searched the area, but did not find any of the culprits.On Wednesday, Border Police halted an attempt by members of the outpost to build an illegal synagogue. Clashes broke out between the police and extremists at the site, in which extremists threw stones, burned tires and physically assaulted the police officers. Five people were arrested.
"Recently, violence by rioters has intensified in an attempt to continue illegal construction in the Kumi Ori outpost," the border police spokesperson's unit said.The Yitzhar community distanced itself from the incident, stating: “This is a shocking and serious event that should not be taken lightly. We hope that the [perpetrators] are not residents of the community. We as a community are working and will continue to work hard to eradicate such events.”Yitzhar resident Ezra Tubi apologized and called on the Israeli security forces to help ensure that such incidents are brought to a halt in their community.“We cannot do it alone,” he said. “We want to live according to the dictates of the law. Nothing justifies what happened tonight. I have been a resident of Yitzhar for 17 years and today I am embarrassed to be standing in the place where a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a security vehicle and the person who threw the Molotov cocktail was not Arabs, not someone who hates us, but Jews, people who came out of Yitzhar where I live. In the name of the most of the community, even all the community, I apologize."Throughout the end of 2019, the police and the IDF saw a drastic increase in violence directed towards them in the area of Yitzhar. Tensions exploded in October when Golani infantry soldiers responded to a violent clash near the settlement between settlers and olive harvesters, who said that they were attacked by Jewish extremists armed with crowbars.Politicians on the right and the left of the political map, including Bayit Yehudi and Meretz, condemned the attack.Israel Resilience Party MK Gaby Ashkenazi, who is expected to become the country’s next defense minister, said “There should be zero tolerance” for such violence.Defense Minister and Bayit Yehudi party head Naftali Bennett said the “shameful and disgraceful" attack was an unprecedented incident of grave magnitude.Such violence is “unacceptable” in any situation and for any reason and certainly when it is directed against the security forces as they stand watch to ensure Israel’s security, Bennett said. “I have ordered the security forces to act in every necessary way to bring these criminals to justice.” Meretz Party head MK Nitzan Horowitz charged that the perpetrators were “domestic terrorists” that were endangering lives. They and other “price tag attackers” should be treated as terrorists in every way, he added, saying “The government’s forgiveness of settler violence will cost human lives."