July 29, 2008 - 5:22pm

The outgoing commander of the northern West Bank, Colonel Amir Baram, says he is "not surprised" by the settlers' recent rioting. Nor were his predecessors. There is really nothing new under the West Bank sun - things repeat themselves.

Officials in the Israel Defense Forces, police and prosecution know mainly how to summarize events, warn of similar ones in the future, write reports and hold meetings summing up their failure to deal with the West Bank lawbreakers.

Colonel Baram named Kedumim council head Daniela Weiss and the rabbi at the Ma'aleh Levona religious girls' high school, Gadi Ben Zimra, as the "main provocateurs."

The girls who refused to talk in police detention because they did not recognize the state's authority did indeed come from the Levona high school. The Kedumim council gives the outlaws shelter because Weiss believes they are persecuted.

The generations come and go - settlers, lawbreakers, yeshiva students, soldiers who guard them and get treated contemptuously, teachers drawing salaries from taxpayers, settlers' sons and grandchildren who do whatever they like. And some of them constitute an infrastructure for Jewish terrorism in the territories. Palestinian generations, meanwhile, also come and go as the settlers, their children and grandchildren rampage and plunder unhindered in a state that has seemingly given up.

A short while ago it turned out that senior settler Zeev (Zambish) Hever, a veteran member of the Jewish terror cells of the 1980s, is being persecuted by the right wing, which is more extreme than he is. The man who invented the diversionary tactics that enabled the construction of the supposedly legal state-funded settlements is now regarded as too moderate and is being harassed for his willingness to give up two outposts in order to hang on to a hundred others.

The excuse for Thursday's rampage was an attempt to evacuate a mobile home, a sort of fake outpost that had only been erected so its removal could be portrayed as a semblance of an evacuation.

Evacuating a mobile home gives the right-wing activists a chance to exercise their forces. The extremist yeshiva students gather by means of a communications network, they block roads, beat up passing Palestinians, snatch soldiers' weapons, burn orchards and plantations and throw stones - faced by defeatist, helpless defense forces.

This absurd spectacle is everyday routine in the West Bank - one in which illegal yeshivas, operating in illegal settlements, whose teachers' wages are paid by the state, halt studies to enable their students to engage in illegal activity. No Israeli government has even tried to deal with the settlers' violence.

Radical yeshiva students - the yeshiva formerly at Joseph's Tomb that moved to Yitzhar and the one on Havat Gilad in Ma'aleh Levona - are marching class after class on the high road of illegal activity.

The attempt to remove a mobile home in the Adei Ad outpost led to Thursday's confrontation, but this is but one incident in a succession of confrontations. The outgoing commander is joining dozens who have said that the settlers' leadership, not the youth, must be dealt with. This statement will probably remain hanging in the air.


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