Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Settler's Army

A report six years ago showed the Israeli Army rapidly becoming an arm of the Settler movement as theocratic anti-Palestinian forces gain increasing control.  Apparently its gotten even worse.
The 2005 Talia Sasson report on illegal outposts presented a clear picture of military forces renouncing their duty to impose law and order on West Bank settlers, not just Palestinians, which led to the growth of illegal outposts.
The report describes how soldiers turned a blind eye to illegal activity and even secretly cooperated with settlers and leaked them information; some officers lived in the outposts.
The army's clear preference for the settlements was bolstered by the identity of the soldiers deployed in the West Bank. The IDF units serving in the settlements were largely made up of settlers and other religious men, and the IDF also armed some of the local security teams protecting the settlements. Thus the social boundaries between the settlers and the IDF units were blurred.
Since the army has attempted to change the rules of the game and loosen the settlers' grip on military conduct, because of the government's political obligations, "price tag" revenge attacks on Palestinians have become the response of those who are unwilling to accept the new rules. That's what Alon was complaining about as his army career was coming to an end.
In fact, there is no better evidence of the undermining of the IDF's control over its forces in the West Bank than an order Alon had issued to restrict information about the army's plans to enforce order in the West Bank - out of a well-founded suspicion that the information was being leaked to the settlers to confound the orders of the top brass.
This is in addition to the soldiers' protests and threats to refuse to carry out their orders that already hinder the army.
The Simhat Torah incident, in which female soldiers were sent to an area about 50 meters away from the post-holiday hakafot shniyot dancing - even though they were already dancing separately from the men, in accordance with Orthodox practice - paints a similar picture.
In that case, the heads of the religious pre-military academies and the hesder yeshivas, which combine army service with Torah study, were making a concerted effort - in conjunction with the IDF rabbinate - to create a theocratic military culture.

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