(photo credit: AP [file])
Settlement activist Baruch Marzel on Monday threatened to launch a public campaign against OC Chaplaincy Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronzki for what he called the IDF's unnecessary Shabbat desecration when evacuating unauthorized settlement outposts.
"If Ronzki continues to allow the IDF to desecrate Shabbat to evacuate Jews from Homesh and other places, we will organize demonstrations against him, we will publicize his crimes and we will do everything possible to force him to resign from his post, just like we did to his predecessor [Rabbi Yisrael Weiss]," Marzel told The Jerusalem Post.
Weiss was widely criticized by some segments of the settler movement for refusing to step down as OC Chaplaincy during implementation of the disengagement plan in 2005. He oversaw some of the most sensitive faith-related aspects of the evacuation, such as the disinterment of graves and the dismantling of synagogues.
Right-wing activists verbally attacked Weiss in public and staged demonstrations in front of his house.
Marzel, claiming to speak for a large group of settlers, is threatening to do the same to Ronzki, a resident of Itamar.
The clash between Marzel and Ronzki underscores the differing attitudes within the religious Zionist movement to illegal settlements.
Hard-line activists such as Marzel claim that every settlement outpost, regardless of whether it is condoned by the government and coordinated with the IDF, is legitimate. Ronzki represents a more moderate segment of religious Zionism that is more concerned with consensus and government backing.
Marzel recently sent Ronzki a letter demanding that he appear before a rabbinic court of Ronzki s choice to explain why soldiers evacuated settlers from Homesh on Shabbat.
"Under Ronzki, the IDF has become an army of goyim without any Jewish sensitivities," he said. "If I did not think Ronzki was a righteous man I would not even bother to summon him to a rabbinic court. But if he does not show we will make his life difficult until he resigns. The guy is not right for the job. He does not know how to stand up to pressure like [former OC Chaplaincy] Rabbi Shlomo Goren did."
Marzel heads the Jewish National Front, a party that received 24,824 votes in the 2006 elections, less than half the electoral threshold.
Marzel's attack on Ronzki was unfair, according to Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva, where Ronzki taught for several years.
"These issues should not be settled in the news media limelight as Marzel is doing," he told the Post Monday. "Rather, a direct query should be made to Rabbi Ronzki."
The IDF evacuated settlers from Homesh on Shabbat to protect them from an impending terrorist attack, Aviner said. A religious officer who had received the intelligence information had ordered the evacuation, he said.
Aviner made a distinction between the IDF s responsibility for protecting settlements as opposed to its responsibility for protecting demonstrators.
"The IDF is obligated to do everything in its power to do what is necessary to protect a Jewish settlement a keep it intact, even if it needs to bring in the entire armed forces to do it," he said. "In contrast, demonstrators can be evacuated if necessary when there is danger to their lives."
The IDF Spokesman said in response that Marzel's claims and letter to Ronzki were not worthy of a response.
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