Army rabbi puts up mezuza in off-limits Hebron casbah

The IDF is considering taking disciplinary action against an army rabbi who affixed a mezuza to an entranceway to the Hebron marketplace on Monday. The rabbi of the IDF Yehuda Brigade, Capt. Eliyahu Peretz, joined several soldiers, Jewish residents of Hebron and Chabad followers and entered the Hebron "casbah" - the city's old marketplace and off-limits to Jews - to affix a mezuza on a wall of a structure which they claimed used to belong to Jews. In response, Peace Now issued a statement condemning the event, insisting that "those who participated in this illegal political ceremony should be put on trial." The Hebron casbah is defined as a "closed military zone" and security forces forbid Israeli civilians from entering it. Sources in the Central Command said Yehuda Brigade Commander Col. Yossi Fuchs was investigating the incident. The mezuza has been removed. They also said that Peretz had been in his position for only one month and had affixed the mezuza in the volatile area unaware of the potential fallout. Rabbi Yossi Nachshon, a Chabad emissary in Hebron who helped organize the ceremony, said he did not understand the IDF's extreme reaction. "The media and the IDF have totally blown the whole thing out of proportion," said Nachshon. "We affixed the mezuza in a place where IDF soldiers are stationed near a Jewish neighborhood. We do these types of things all the time. On the same day we affixed mezuzot in various settlements around the Hebron hills." Nachshon said that according to Jewish law there was no obligation to affix a mezuzah near the casbah. However, he added that a mezuza was believed to offer protection against physical dangers. Nachshon said that a Jewish settler had been killed near the scene of the contentious mezuza. Chabad regularly provides religious services and aid to soldiers in addition to the services provided by the brigade rabbi, said Nachshon. "During Hanukka, the IDF Chaplaincy said they had a limited budget and asked us to provide soldiers with Hanukkiot and candles and conduct candle lighting services for soldiers stationed in and around Hebron."