So-called "price tag" attacks and the isolated radical settlers perpetrating them harm the state, the army and Israel's relations with its neighbors and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said during a tour of the West Bank Tuesday morning.Barak was clear, however, that those carrying out attacks against Palestinians and the IDF "are isolated radicals." Most settlers in the West Bank are normal citizens, he said, adding that settlers "are entitled to the protection of the state."
"These isolated radicals are harming Israeli citizens, diverting the IDF from its duties and principles, and are also harming the delicate fabric of our relations with the Palestinians and our neighbors in general," the defense minister said. The IDF and other law enforcement agencies should be praised for their work to stop the phenomenon, he added.
Barak went on to praise the IDF's work protecting Israelis and maintaining quiet, which he described as necessary for giving peace a chance. RELATED:2 soldiers arrested for passing intel to settlers Vandals deface mosque, spray 'price tag' graffiti "We are looking ahead at a period of uncertainty," he added, saying that the Israeli government is trying to advance the peace process but that there is no guarantee it will take off. "It is our intention, however, to also work in the field in order to give the [peace] process a chance."The IDF's work to protect Israelis is "exceptional," Barak said, but admitted the security establishment "is never actually satisfied. There were a number of large [terrorist] attacks this year and we took care of each one."For the IDF, he said, "there is nothing more important than protecting Israeli citizens, the settlements, and the movement of Israelis here (in the West Bank), alongside ensuring quiet in the area."That quiet, the defense minister explained, "is a result of accomplishments of the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Civil Authority, and not insignificantly, of the actions of the Palestinian security forces."