IDF worried about settler informants in its ranks

Army considering changing rules of engagement after many criticize soldiers' reaction to settler storming of base.

By
December 14, 2011 18:16
2 minute read.
Hilltop Youth settlers [illustrative]

Hilltop Youth setters West Bank 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen)

 
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The IDF is looking into the possibility that soldiers tipped off settler activists who stormed the Ephraim Regional Brigade base Monday night.

The army has opened an investigation into the series of incidents that took place: settlers breaking through the fence on the Jordanian border, the stoning of Palestinian cars near Kedumim, the raid on the Ephraim Brigade base (also near Kedumim) and a subsequent attack on IDF soldiers.

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“It all appears to have been part of a coordinated attack to prevent the IDF from carrying out an operation,” an officer said on Wednesday.

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The IDF also plans to clarify rules of engagement for soldiers serving in the West Bank who come into contact with far-right activists such as those who invaded the base Monday.

Some officers have criticized the way the soldiers at the base handled the incident and how the attackers succeeded in leaving the scene without being arrested.

“We need to begin to treat these people differently,” one officer said. “It is very difficult to make that mental shift, but it is necessary to prevent these events from happening again.”

The IDF Central Command decided Wednesday to establish a force mandated to repel attacks on military bases. It will be stationed in the West Bank and will have the ability to reach bases quickly.

In addition, soldiers will be given the authority to arrest attackers – something only police had until now – so as not to repeat the failure of Monday night, when none of the attackers was caught.

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The coordinated attack was understood within the IDF as an attempt to prevent the evacuation of illegal outposts, which they feared was planned for Monday. In addition, the so-called “price-tag” attacks are viewed as part of a larger effort to deter future government evacuations of outposts or settlements.

In 2009, then-commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tivon distributed a booklet to battalion commanders in which he recommended that they identify soldiers in their units who might leak information about imminent evacuations to settlers.

IDF officers said the military would step up efforts to prevent future attacks. Under consideration, for example, is issuing orders banning from the West Bank activists suspected of participating in “price tag” attacks against soldiers and Palestinians.

In September, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi issued orders banning 13 settlers from entering the West Bank. Such orders are issued when the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) obtain intelligence information regarding a suspect but the information is not enough to press charges in court.

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