Monday, September 29, 2014, 15:55 Yitzhar residents discovered that exercise equipment
was placed in the beit midrash (religious study hall) of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva, which was taken over by IDF and border police forces in April of 2014. Honenu attorney Adi Kedar commented on the incident: “They added insult to injury.”
Two weeks after GOC of Central Command Major General Nitzan Alon extended the seizure warrant on the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar, residents of the community discovered that border policemen staying at the site had turned the yeshiva’s beit midrash into a fitness room.
Yitzhar residents who entered the yeshiva complex, which is currently fenced off with barbed wire and housing a border police company, succeeded in filming the door to the beit midrash which the policemen broke and also the exercise equipment placed in the beit midrash. Please see the video here. The camera man is taking note of the exercise equipment and did not receive a reply from the policemen when he inquired about the broken door. Video credit: HaKol HaYehudi.
Honenu attorney Adi Kedar, who is representing the yeshiva, sent an urgent letter to Major General Alon demanding that the desecration of the yeshiva be stopped and the exercise equipment removed from the beit midrash.
“We are currently marking the High Holy Days,” wrote Kedar. “In a normal situation, at this time of year the beit midrash is filled with students busy learning Torah, saying selichot prayers and prayers for the High Holy Days. It should not be that IDF forces staying at the site desecrate the beit midrash and that in place of the sanctity that had prevailed they are exercising on the site.
“How can it be that IDF officers are allowing this? The disrespect with which the IDF forces are treating the beit midrash is shocking,” added Kedar. “We are filled with shame that the IDF behaves in such a manner in a beit midrash. This conduct adds insult to injury being as in terms of security there is no need to take over the beit midrash. This is harassment of the Torah world.”
Kedar also notes that the policemen caused additional damage to the yeshiva complex including, but not limited to, damage to the dining hall door and a broken window.
Copies of the letter were sent to the Chief Rabbis of Israel, the Chief Rabbi of the IDF, the Defense Minister, the Minister of Religious Services, the Deputy Minister of Religious Services, and additional Knesset Members.
The yeshiva students held Rosh HaShana prayer services in a temporary beit midrash constructed adjacent to the yeshiva dormitories and currently they are preparing for Yom Kippur and Simhat Torah prayers, which attract many guests to the yeshiva. Despite the difficulties and the overcrowding, the yeshiva has continued classes according to its regular schedule and the sound of Torah continues to be heard.”