Anshel Pfeffer
Haaretz (Opinion)
December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

As the situation currently stands between the Israel Defense Forces and the widening margins of the extreme settler right, the only "red line" that has yet to be crossed is a scenario in which an Israeli citizen would open fire on IDF soldiers. There are those in Israel's security forces who fear that that day is not so distant.

Before we hurry to call Tuesday's attack on an IDF brigade commander and his deputy an "escalation" in IDF-settler ties, it is important to emphasize that this is not a new situation.

For several months now, there has been outright violence between "price tag" groups who rally around illegal outposts, and the IDF forces stationed there for their protection. For the settlers, throwing rocks, and even fire bombs, at IDF and border police patrol vehicles is no longer a rare incident and physical altercations have also become almost routine. An attack on a base of a regional brigade, as occurred early Tuesday morning, has already happened three months ago. Moreover, an attack on IDF soldiers by residents of illegal outposts in Gush Shilo occurred a little more than two months ago.

One of the commanders of the regional brigades said recently, "I spend more time talking to the coordinators of the Shin Bet's Jewish department than those in charge of thwarting Palestinian terrorism."

Most of his colleagues also say that in the past two years, with the drop in terrorist attacks and improvement in coordination with Palestinian security forces, as well as the continuous rise in "price tag" attacks, most of their time and resources go to dealing with Jewish terrorism.

Six months ago, Israeli security forces worked to prevent the attacks on Palestinians and their property, but now they also need to protect themselves from the settlers.

Since IDF soldiers and officers are not authorizes to carry out arrests of Israeli citizens, the continued riots show, more than anything else, the helplessness of the Judea and Samaria district of the Israel Police as well as the almost inexplicable weakness of the court when it comes to sentencing rioting settlers.

This is how Tuesday morning's absurd situation occurred, when the IDF held back some 50 Jewish rioters at the Efraim Regional Brigade's base, but there was no one there to arrest them and lead them to investigation, since the police did not show up.

In the current state of affairs, the IDF's main weapon in the land of the outposts has become a video camera, in hope that at least a taped testimony could lead to arrests and the opening of an investigation. Meanwhile, a company commander serving in the West Bank says, "I need to explain to my soldiers why they need to continue protecting those who attack them."


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