Peace Now complains over commander’s Hebron comments

IDF commander made public comments supporting Israeli sovereignty over the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

August 17, 2012 05:34
1 minute read.
The Cave of the Patriarchs, near Hebron.

cave of the patriarchs 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Peace Now on Thursday complained to the Defense Ministry about public comments an IDF commander made in support of Israeli sovereignty over the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.

It also took issue with the IDF’s decision to hold a ceremony Wednesday at the Cave of the Patriarchs for the incoming commander of the IDF Judea Brigade, Avi Balut, and the outgoing commander, Shai Hazut. It noted that in the past the ceremony had been held in the nearby brigade base.

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“I appeal to you after, to my great sorrow, a senior IDF commander decided to advance a controversial political agenda and to transform the ritual exchange of division commanders into a divisive political event,” said Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer in a letter he addressed to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

The decision to hold the ceremony in front of the cave was made worse by Hazut’s statement at the event, Oppenheimer said. According to Oppenheimer, Hazut said that the cave validates the Jewish nation legally and morally and strengthens its hold on the Land of Israel.

“This is not a religious or political statement, but rather a purely Zionist and Israeli matter,” Hazut said.

Oppenheimer said that no military commander has the right to determine if Israeli sovereignty over the Cave of the Patriarchs was in the interest of either Zionism or the state.

But Hebron Jewish community spokesman David Wilder, who attended the ceremony, said that its location at the cave sent an important and necessary message about the site’s value to the Jewish people.

The IDF, he said, often holds ceremonies in places that it deems to have significant Jewish value, like the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

“There is no place more natural than to have a ceremony like that,” Wilder said. “It was very poignant.”

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