Settlers, soldiers clash in West Bank

Unrest erupts as Ashkenazi praises "close ties" between army, settlers during New Year toast.

Ashkenazi 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Ashkenazi 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Settlers and security forces clashed during enforcement operations by the Civil Administration on Sunday morning, Israel Radio reported. The clashes erupted as the IDF's top commander was raising a New Year's toast in the Central Command, and praising the settlers' cooperation with the military. The clashes erupted after settlers in Havat Gilad, in Samaria, wanted to relocate a caravan within the confines of the settlement. Inspectors arriving on the scene said the action was illegal and moved to confiscate both the caravan and the truck carrying it. Settlers called for backup in order to resist the Civil Administration's decision, and a scuffle erupted between the sides. They punctured the wheels of a military vehicle and pelted security forces with stones, Israel Radio reported. Settler leaders were negotiating with OC Central Command Maj. -Gen. Gadi Shamni in order to restore the peace and prevent the confiscation of the caravan and the truck. Ironically, just before the clashes erupted in Havat Gilad, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi praised the settlers' cooperation with the military during a Rosh Hashana toast at the Central Command. "The IDF needs the residents' collaboration in order to tackle the security challenges together," Ashkenazi told heads of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea Samaria and the Gaza Strip. "I want to tell you that you will find a supportive shoulder and a listening ear in us, especially since we understand our military missions in this complicated field," Ashkenazi said, stressing the need to "strengthen the bonds and understand we must act together." Ashkenazi said "whoever grew up in the army understands this. I would like to give my blessings to [IDF] commanders as well as you [heads of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea Samaria and the Gaza Strip] for your cooperation. It is clear to us that you operate in a very complex reality, sometimes stuck between a rock and a hard place." Shamni, also present at the ceremony, said - before he went to mediate between the adversaries at Havat Gilad - "The year that has passed was a good year from the aspect of security and everything relating to the life of residents of Judea and Samaria, Israelis and Palestinians." The Council of Samaria Residents said in response to the clashes that "the Civil Administration again automatically fights Jews and tries to foment unrest without need. We hope the responsible behavior of the residents of Havat Gilad will prevent unnecessary and unpleasant situations. The Civil Administration acts as a provocateur, trying to ignite the area at any price."