Will Israel Declare War on Violent Settlers? [View all]
By Jeffrey Goldberg
The Israeli Defense Forces are increasingly confronting a truth that many Palestinians learned awhile ago: A not-insignificant number of the Israelis who have settled on the West Bank are unhinged zealots who, in their self-righteousness, myopia and contempt for those with whom they disagree, comprise a kind of Jewish Hamas.
The Israeli army deploys a great deal of manpower to protect settlers from Arab terrorism. There is no conceivable way the settlers would be alive today without the protection of Israel’s soldiers, many of whom object to settlements but are doing their duty.
Yet the army has now become a target of a violent band of settlers called the Hilltop Youth. These “youth,” many in their 20s and even 30s by now (and guided by rabbis in their 70s and 80s), are the offspring of the first and second generation of religious settlers. They reject what they see as their parents’ bourgeois lifestyle and despise the government in Jerusalem to which their parents are more or less loyal.
The Hilltop Youth became a source of great anguish in Israel this week after a gang of 50 settlers stormed an army base adjacent to the Kedumim settlement in the northern West Bank and threw rocks at both soldiers and Palestinians. The commander of the army’s Ephraim Brigade was struck in the head with a rock.