(photo credit: IDF)
Shabbat evacuations of settler encampments, illegal outposts and closed military
zones are only permissible if they are done in order to save lives, Chief
Chaplain Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz emphasized, during a meeting Sunday of the
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
After a push by settlers’
advocates, the committee heard from top IDF and Defense Ministry representatives
who clarified the IDF’s position on these evacuations.
have complained that security forces have repeatedly evacuated people
site of the former settlement of Homesh on Shabbat.
Peretz said that it
is the local commander who is responsible for determining whether or not
Shabbat evacuation is necessary.
In the event that such a step is deemed
necessary, he said, the evacuees should be taken to the nearest safe
rather than to a local police station, as is frequently the practice.
the Central Command’s Chief of Staff Brig.-Gen Moti Almoz disagreed with
Peretz’s conclusion, insisting that since the evacuees had broken the
should be taken to a police station.
Homesh was one of two northern
Samarian settlements evacuated during the 2005 disengagement.
the area has since been declared a closed military zone, activists have
repeatedly gathered at the site, building sheds and cabins and “moving
live atop the settlement’s ruins.
Although the efforts by activists to
live in Homesh – and security forces to evacuate them – have been
ongoing in the
five years since the disengagement, activists said it is only in the
that the activists have been removed – and sometimes detained – on
holidays. The activists have complained that such evacuations constitute
violations of Shabbat.
The activists said that the security forces would
tell them the evacuation had to be conducted on the holy days due to
conditions, such as intelligence warnings of planned terror attacks on
But the activists said that they did not believe that such
intelligence warnings actually existed, and that they were simply a
the security forces’ actions. They stressed that military regulations
operations on Shabbat only for the purpose of saving lives, and not for
Although the acting committee chairman, MK Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud), suggested that the panel accept Peretz’s guidelines as the
own conclusions, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i objected,
accusing him of
violating the IDF’s chain of command.
The ultimate voice in the army’s
decision-making process, said Vilna’i, is not the chief chaplain but
chief of General Staff, who may choose whether or not to approve