Jewish residents of the northern West Bank vowed to continue construction Monday one day after a report was leaked to the press detailing special measures the Israel Defense Forces will take to monitor adherence to the 10-month settlement freeze enacted by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in late November.
The internal IDF memo leaked to the press Sunday listed special measures including airborne surveillance to monitor whether construction had halted and cellular phone jamming to prevent settler activists from coordinating protests against enforcement of the freeze.
While most would not speak on the record, several settlers from Yitzhar, which lies atop a steep mountain between Ariel and Nablus, said, "There's no freeze in Yitzhar," brushing aside any perceived worries about the new government tactics.
In a neighborhood of caravans near the entrance to the village, "Hodaya" said residents were not bothered by reports of new IDF measures or the freeze itself, saying, "I don't know about other settlements, but here, people are stronger in their beliefs. They will keep on building."
Hodaya added that in the past two weeks she had seen IAF planes flying low overhead, but couldn't say for sure whether they were conducting surveillance or routine exercises.
At a recently-built synagogue at the settlement's high point, builder and local resident Gilad was putting the finishing touches on exterior tiling.
"We try not to violate the freeze, but it's possible to put things up at night or build things quickly here and there," he said. "We don't want to cause trouble, and are willing to wait or talk if the freeze is only 10 months. But if it goes on after that, there are ways to continue building discreetly."
Benny Katzover, spokesman for the Elon Moreh settlement near Yitzhar, told The Jerusalem Post Monday that residents will continue to build, mainly because there is little faith the freeze will be lifted after 10 months.
"Almost no one believes there won't be a second freeze. If Bibi [Netanyahu] folded to the pressure before, why won't he again?" Katzover said, adding that if another freeze is instituted, even those who honored the first freeze "would have no choice but to build."
Katzover didn't reveal whether the residents of Elon Moreh had devised any new tactics for countering these measures.
"Even if I had, I wouldn't tell you," he said, adding that residents wouldn't need to employ special measures and would continue building in the light of day.
"And if the state destroys what we build, then we'll rebuild," Katzover added.
Katzover also shared a joke circulating in Samaria settlements.
"If the government is already using the Air Force and the Infantry Corps, why not bring in the Navy? At least that way we'd have some sea in Samaria."
Sa'adiyah Israel, spokesperson for the northern Samaria community of Har Bracha, said residents were not worried about the new IDF measures. They are holding off from construction, he said, but would build anew if the freeze continues after 10 months, regardless of new IDF protocol for the settlements.
"We aren't too excited over these new IDF measures and we know that we'll rebuild again in another 10 months. People are willing to wait, but if there is another freeze enacted, a phase two or phase three, we'll have no choice but to build."