Settlers hurl block at IDF colonel and attack base

A policeman confronts a settler in a clash in Jerusalem this week

A policeman confronts a settler in a clash in Jerusalem this week

The relationship between Jewish settlers in the West Bank and the IDF took another plunge this week after dozens of rioters attacked a brigade headquarters and a jeep in which two senior officers were travelling.

The attacks seem to have been part of a co-ordinated attempt to prevent the army from carrying out eviction orders against illegally-built outposts in Samaria.

The first incident occurred on Monday near Jericho, when about 20 young men broke through the border fence near the Jordan River and occupied an abandoned monastery.

The IDF, which arrived at the spot soon afterwards, encircled the invaders and evicted them later in the night.

Senior officers believe that the incursion was carried out to divert attention from the Samaria region, where about 300 settlers were mustering. A group of them broke into the territorial brigade headquarters and vandalised army vehicles. At the same time, over 200 of them rioted on the main road near the Ramat Gilad outpost, throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles.

Colonel Zur Harpaz, arrived on the scene in a jeep and some of the rioters opened the door and threw a building block inside, slightly wounding him on the head.

"I have never, in 30 years of army service, seen such hatred from Jews towards soldiers," said CO Central Command, Major General Avi Mizrahi.

A senior IDF officer said that "what is worrying is that they seem to have co-ordinated all these attacks to prevent us from carrying out the court orders and that they had advance information on our intentions."

"The IDF does not have the authority to arrest Israeli citizens," said one officer, "but it's absurd the police cannot act against them."

Danny Dayan, the leader of the settlers' YESHA Council condemned the attacks and called upon the security services to arrest all the perpetrators.

One IDF general who has been working with the settlers for many years said on Tuesday that "there is a whole group there now in the West Bank that don't listen to anyone, to politicians, officers or rabbis."

Last updated: 2:09pm, December 15 2011