Former Defense Minister MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer declared Wednesday that Israel Defense Forces troops should have shot the extremist settlers who broke into a West Bank military base on Tuesday, vandalizing property and attacking soldiers.
Speaking at a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting, Ben-Eliezer said, "This gang of criminals slammed a brick into a deputy brigade commander's brain and nearly killed him. It's a shame no one was arrested. They should have fired shots, they should have reacted."
He said that since the settlers were one step away from killing the commander, it would have been justifiable to take potentially lethal action. "The handful of people who commit these crimes deserve a deadly reaction, in order to nip the process in the bud," he said.
Get the Israel Hayom newsletter sent to your mailbox!
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Tuesday that he would "eradicate" this type of violence saying, "These criminals are breaking all the rules."
Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, "I have issued instructions to combat this trend with full force, using every resource available to me as prime minister. We will remove these criminals. The IDF, Shin Bet and the police will join forces and we'll eradicate this bad seed."
"We have to stop bad things when they're small," he continued. "This thing is still small, and we'll stop it now. I won't allow anyone to raise a hand against IDF soldiers and Israel's police. We are all united in our desire to uphold the law and protect democracy, and that is what we will do."
"There is a small group within us that tries to sanctify ideologically motivated crimes. There is no such thing as ideological crime. There's only crime," Netanyahu had said earlier.
Gantz also spoke at the conference, describing the vandals as perpetrators of "premeditated violence."
"The IDF, there to protect the people, finds itself protecting itself from the people. This is unimaginably absurd -- an unlikely and dangerous reality," he said.
President Shimon Peres also remarked on the incidents, saying that they signified "the crossing of all red lines." He quoted the Bible, saying, "An event like this can be described with the verse, ‘Your destroyers and devastators will emerge from within you,’ a line from Isaiah. It is an insult to throw stones at soldiers who protect them day and night, and to injure an IDF officer. We can't allow this to happen again in our country. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor also condemned the incidents, saying, "The attack by dozens of settlers against soldiers and their commanders - it is like a declaration of war against the state."
He added, "This is a case of blatant disregard for the law and an attempt to undermine the authority of the state and the government."
Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon addressed a separate incident Tuesday that saw another group of settlers take over an abandoned structure in a closed Israeli military zone near the border with Jordan, saying, "The violence spreading wildly across Judea and Samaria is dangerous, and it is terrorism. It undermines Israel's rule of law. It is our duty to employ every possible means to battle this and regard it with zero tolerance. These are violent criminals who sully Israel's good name and the good name of the Jewish faith, and they belong in prison."
Homefront Defense Minister Matan Vilnai described the vandals as "Jewish terrorists who undermine Israel's security and harm the soldiers who protect them."
Condemnations came from the settlers themselves, as well, with one settler lamenting the loss of control over certain extremist activists within their ranks. "Our leadership has lost control over right-wing activists. They don't listen to what we say and haven't done in a long time. They have their own leaders, some of them are especially bizarre, and they listen only to them."
Rabbi Eliyakim Lavnon, the chief rabbi of the West Bank settlement of Alon Moreh, condemned the events, but added, "The government is committing acts of violence in the name of democracy, and the defense minister and the prime minister are to blame."
"They are forcing extremists to do things that shouldn't be done. There is no reason to issue threats of outpost evacuations," Lavnon said, referring to a recent government announcement that it would evacuate settler outposts by the end of the year.
MK Daniel Hershkowitz, the head of the New National Religious Party, declared that "a line has been crossed. We must remove these tumors from our society."
"The only result of the leniency of the past is further attacks against the IDF," said New National Religious Party member MK Zevulun Orlev.
More than 100 people took part in a protest Tuesday in support of the IDF across from the army base that came under attack earlier in the day. In addition, students of hesder yeshivas (schools that incorporate Torah study with obligatory military service) across Israel signed a letter condemning the grave incident.
Condemnations of the events were also heard within the military rabbinical unit. Former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Rontzki took an unequivocal stance against the incident, saying, "This is an unprecedented event, and it is extremely serious. We, the rabbinical and educational role models, must take stock of what happpened and try to understand how we got here, to a point where dozens of young members of the religious sector are behaving like the lowest criminals and acting against the spirit of Judaism."
"The state needs to figure out how to mitigate the flames so that we don't end up with a civil war," he declared.
Meanwhile, the wife of deputy brigade commander Lt. Col. Tzur Harpaz, who was physically assaulted and called a "Nazi" during the break in at the army base, voiced her disbelief on Tuesday. "He has been a combat soldier for so many years, and I could somehow accept it if he were hurt in battle, but to be wounded at the hand of a Jew? I never even dreamed that would happen!"
"When I heard that he had sustained an injury to his head I thought he had been caught in a clash between settlers and Palestinians, but I don't understand Jews who hurt soldiers or commanders," she added.
She added that more than the physical injury, her husband was hurt by the Nazi comment, explaining, "His grandmother recently died, and she was a Holocaust survivor. Tzur was working on project to honor her memory. He was deeply hurt by these insults."
Like our newsletter? 'Like' our Facebook page!