IDF commander censured after saying IDF and settlements 'one and the same'

Col. Roi Zweig previously came under criticism in April for allowing the media to film the renovation of Joseph’s Tomb while soldiers were still there, in violation of orders.

Israeli reserve soldiers guard near Israeli flag in the West Bank village of Hawara, near Nablus, May 26, 2022 (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Israeli reserve soldiers guard near Israeli flag in the West Bank village of Hawara, near Nablus, May 26, 2022
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Following comments that the IDF and West Bank settlements were “one and the same” the commander of the Samaria Regional Brigade, Col. Roi Zweig was censured by his commanding officer Brig.-Gen. Avi Blot.

The meeting came after Zweig “participated in a civilian event this week without coordinating it as required,” the IDF spokesperson said in a statement.

Zweig was speaking to yeshiva students from settlements in the northern West Bank as well as a number of rabbis and the head of the Samaria regional council Yossi Dagan to mark Jerusalem Day, which marks the reunification of the capital following the Six-Day War.

“It has often been said that the army and the settlements work together. I disagree with that, I think the army and the settlement enterprise are one and the same,” Zweig said, adding that anyone who says that “the army and the settlers work together is drawing a distinction between the two populations.”

Following his remarks, which were met with heavy criticism, he was called in to meet with Blot, the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, to clarify his remarks at the event in which he participated without coordinating with him.

 Israeli soldiers secure the scene after a Palestinian assailant attempted to stab Israeli soldiers, near the Hawara checkpoint, outside the West Bank city of Nablus, May 17, 2022.  (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90) Israeli soldiers secure the scene after a Palestinian assailant attempted to stab Israeli soldiers, near the Hawara checkpoint, outside the West Bank city of Nablus, May 17, 2022. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

While Blot expressed his appreciation to Zweig for his work to thwart terror as part of the IDF’s Operation Break the Wave, the officer has come under criticism before.

In April he allowed the media to film the renovation of Joseph’s Tomb while soldiers were still there in violation of orders from the head of the Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yehuda Fuchs.

“It was at this location that the Land [of Israel] was promised to Abraham our patriarch.” Zweig was filmed telling the troops carrying out the work, adding that they were “working fiercely as did our forefathers, not as thieves at night but as the sons of kings. We get to restore the honor to this land and the people of Israel.”

Fuchs, meanwhile, has come under heavy criticism by settler activists who have shared posters on social media calling him a failure for preventing Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli cars.

“Tough against Jews in Homesh – weak in Hawwara,” said one of the posters, referring to an illegal outpost and the violence in a Palestinian town that has seen recent violence between Israeli settlers and local residents.

“Yehuda Fuchs, you have failed, take responsibility,” the poster read.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi strongly condemned the banners, saying that they are “an improper and unprincipled action that targets a professional, lawful, and virtuous public servant.”

Calling the posters “inciteful discourse,” the statement added that “IDF officers act matter-of-factly and should not be included in or hint at political discourse or discourse on a personal level.”