Questions for the IDF Spokesman on settler treatment

A list of questions to which, I suspect, I will not receive an answer

Yesterday I sent this long query to the IDF Spokesman, Radio and Internet Department. I was informed that it was forwarded to the New Media Department. I will publish their reply when, and if, I receive it.


My name is Yossi Gurvitz, and I write for the Friends of George blog (in Hebrew), and for +972 (in English). Following the events of the last few days, I would appreciate an answer to the following questions:

1. In reply to a question on how the colonel stoned by settlers should have reacted, IDF Spokesman Brigadier Yoav Mordechai said two days ago to Carmela Menashe (during the Ha’Kol Diburim program), “I assume, Carmela, that you wouldn’t expect the brigade commander to open fire on a Jew standing in front of him, I am certain you didn’t mean that.”

A.               Is this an official proclamation by the IDF of a policy of discrimination in accordance with blood? If not, please supply an alternative explanation to Brigadier Mordechai’s words.

B.                How does the IDF Spokesman expect the world media to understand this declaration?

C.                Brigadier Mordechai said that IDF soldiers should not be expected to react violently to Jewish demonstrators. However, in the past, the IDF has shot at Jewish protesters (Gil Na’amati, for instance, who protested the separation barrier), who have suffered excessive violence (such as when a stun gun was used against Yonathan Shapira). Given the facts, shouldn’t Brigadier Mordechai amend his comments to say “you wouldn’t expect the brigade commander to open fire at a right-wing Jew”?

2. Following the latest events [of settler assaults on army targets], the IDF Spokesman announced (Hebrew) that “the IDF views with great alarm these acts, which are directed at it and its soldiers, and divert it from its main mission – the defense of the country’s citizens and residents. The IDF expects the rabbis and the leaders of the Yesha Council to strongly condemn this alarming behaviour.”

A. Is the IDF Spokesman aware that as the IDF is the sovereign in the West Bank, which is held as a territory captured at war, it is obligated to defend not just the civilians and residents of Israel, but also – and even more so – the residents of the captured territory?

B. Given that, and given the fact that Jewish terrorist attacks against Palestinians (nicknamed “price tag” attacks) are a daily occurrence, what does the IDF intend to do in order to defend the Palestinian residents from the settlers? Will it reinforce its forces in the captured territory? If not, why?

C. What is the statutory status of the Yesha Council? Given it has none, why does the IDF refer to it as a recognized body? What is the recognized status of the rabbis?

D. Assuming the Yesha Council and the rabbis do not obey the demands of the IDF, or they qualify their condemnation (by saying, for example, “We denounce the actions, but…”), what does the IDF plan to do?

3. According to some reports, attacks on IDF bases by settlers are carried out with the aid of soldiers who support the settlers, and who provide them with inside information in order to prevent the removal of outposts.

A. Is the IDF holding investigations in order to find those soldiers?

B. Assuming they are exposed, does the IDF intend to try them for treason and/or aggravated espionage? I wish to remind you that former soldier Anat Kamm is serving four and a half years in prison after giving a journalists documents from the office of the Commanding General.

C. If the IDF does not intend to try them for treason and/or aggravated espionage, why not?

4. From time to time, the IDF enforces a curfew or imposes a closure (during which movement within the settlement is allowed, but leaving it is not) of Palestinian settlements in the captured territory, for security reasons.

A. Assuming some Jewish settlements are known to the security forces for trouble-making, does the IDF intend to either enclose or curfew those settlements?

B. If not, why? Is it a part of the discriminatory enforcement of which Brigadier Mordechai spoke?

5. From time to time, IDF soldiers carry out night raids in Palestinian towns (during curfew), while mapping the inhabitants of each building and taking photos of them.

A. Is the IDF planning on extending this policy to the Jewish settlements?

B. If not, why? Is it a part of the discriminatory enforcement of which Brigadier Mordechai spoke?

6. Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, the head of the Hesder Yeshiva (*) in Elon Moreh, recently called upon his soldiers to refuse orders when ordered to particpate in events where women soldiers are singing; He further called upon them to be ready to die for this cause. This is not Levanon’s first instance of demanding his soldiers disobey orders: He did so in 2005, during the disengagement.

A. Does the IDF intend to stop recognizing Levanon’s yeshiva as a hesder yeshiva?

B. Does the IDF intend to demand the yeshiva remove Levanon from his position if it wants to remain a part of the Hesder agreement?

C. If not, why?

D. How would the IDF react to a university president who would call upon his students to refuse serving in the military reserves?

I would appreciate your prompt reply.

With gratitude,

Yossi Gurvitz

(*) Hesder yeshivas are part of an agreement which allows national-religious Israelis to avoid most of the military service yet still feel superior towards the average Israeli. They serve for 16 months, as opposed to the 36 required of most Israeli Jews. Four of these months are reserve duty, and they spend some 3 years more in their yeshivas, mostly being indoctrinated – an indoctrination paid for by the government. It’s a nice, cushy deal, which allows a large number of religious soldiers to serve as one unit.