The IDF and Border Police vacated the premises of the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar on Tuesday, ending a year-long occupation of the site – and leaving behind severe damage. The yeshiva has published disturbing documentation from the site, and a professional assessor has estimated the cost of the direct damage at hundreds of thousands of shekels.
The damage includes missing mezuzahs, Hebrew and Arabic graffiti on walls, and a smashed memorial picture for a fallen student.
"The responsibility rests on the shoulders of the entire chain of command,” yeshiva sources said Thursday – even as they prepared for a festive ceremony celebrating the return of the yeshiva to its owners' hands.
The doors to the study hall, or beit midrash, were broken, and one was ripped out of its hinges. There were dozens of holes in walls and ceilings, broken ceramic tiles, doors and handles, and the outdoor sprinkler system and fences were damaged.
The glass on the memorial picture of Har'el Bin Nun hy”d, a graduate of the yeshiva who was murdered by Arabs, was smashed. Yeshiva computers and files were heaped in one room and severely damaged.
Policemen left behind graffiti of their names, including some Arabic graffiti probably written by Druze who make up a large portion of the Border Police.
"We were very sorry to see the beit midrash defiled and the heavy damage that the policemen left behind,” the yeshiva said Thursday. “This indicates the harsh and degrading attitude of the security forces to the things that are holy to Israel, and the responsibility rests on the entire chain of command, from the Defense Minister to the policemen who stayed at the yeshiva. We hope that they will make teshuva (repentance), compensate the yeshiva, and from now on, engage only in activity for the Nation of Israel."
The yeshiva was initially seized by Border Police in April of 2014, following clashes between an extreme element in the community and security forces.
Border Police response
The Border Police Spokesman said in response that most of the claims are “recycled” ones and relate to damages that were present before the Border Police entered the structure.
"The Border Police warriors were placed at the Yitzhar Yeshiva in order to provide a security solution at the location,” the spokesman went on. “From time to time, during the warriors' stay, the structure's condition and its contents were comprehensively checked. When the forces left, the building was again thoroughly inspected for damage.
"If it turns out that damages were caused to the structure in the course of its use, they will be repaired immediately. It should be noted that the compound was used with maximal sensitivity and respect for the dignity of the location.”