IDF Commander: Gov't. Promoting Violence

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HEBRON, Israel - The former commander of IDF (Israel Defense Forces) ground forces blamed the government for the violence at Beit Hashalom (the Peace House) in Hebron.

In an interview with Voice of Israel radio Wednesday morning, Major General (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal said the government's insistence on evacuating the property before the court rules on its legal ownership is unnecessary and provocative.

"We are not talking about an enemy," Ron-Tal said. "It is not necessary to expel families. We are talking about mothers and children. What is the hurry?" he asked.

Ron-Tal also clarified the media's misrepresentation of the High Court's ruling, which did not order the residents' evacuation. Instead, the court gave the government the option of allowing residents to remain until a lower court rules on the building's legal ownership.

Meanwhile, following violent confrontations Tuesday, in which a 15-year-old Jewish youth was critically injured by a large rock that fractured his skull, Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared the area a closed military zone.

The move was designed to prevent more Israelis from arriving at the house to reinforce those already there.

Former mayor of Kedumim Daniella Weiss also blamed the government for the situation.

"The government's conduct here is insane," Weiss told YNet news. "Our struggle here is absolutely legitimate so I'm not trying to control the youth," she said.

"The Arabs who live on the west side [of Hebron] haven't lifted a rock against Jews in the year and nine months they [the Jewish residents] have been living in Beit Hashalom. Today, they started hurling rocks and the boys [Jewish youths] responded," she said.

"What happened was astounding. The Arabs threw piles of rocks and objects from the roofs. The Border Guard units went up to the roofs and found boxes of stones ready to be thrown at us," she said.

"I think the minister of defense [Ehud Barak] should make the decision to allow us to stay in light of the evidence and the fact that the house was purchased legally and everything was documented," Weiss said.

"That's all that is required for the residents to go back to living peacefully. The whole issue of Beit Hashalom is a political issue. They [the government] don't want to allow Jews to live outside the ghetto," she said.

Sources: YNet news, israel national news

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