IDF officer threatened for his involvement in pullout

A religious IDF officer and his family have been subjected to threats and harassment since moving to a Golan Heights community two months ago because of his involvement in the evacuation of Gaza settlements. Police are investigating after a complaint was lodged by the officer, Ilan Sofer, a psychologist in the army who served as an organizational consultant to Border Police during the disengagement. "I don't envy them; first they had to deal with the usual problems incurred when moving to a new community, and now harassment," Dan Hayman, spokesman for the Golan Heights community Hispin, told The Jerusalem Post. The tires of Sofer's military vehicle have been slashed a number of times, his family has been threatened, bottles have been smashed at the entrance to his home and on Sunday his wife's car tires were slashed and "we will never forget" slogans were painted on it. Last week a group of youth stood outside the Sofers' home and called out "Ilan burn." One of the Sofer children was at home at the time and immediately contacted his father. One of the suspects caught turned out to be a counselor in the Bnei Akiva youth movement. According to Hayman, the culprits are high school students and 12-year-olds, and in one instance the family of a perpetrator immediately apologized to the Sofer family. He said that the Sofer family began the process of being accepted as members of the community before the disengagement began, and moved into their home two months ago. Community leaders, representatives of the local education committee and social workers, together with community Rabbi Aharon Eizental, have been dealing with the issue ever since the first incident occurred, said Hayman. Eizental was the first person to issue a public condemnation, he added. While some of those involved in harassing the family are full-fledged residents of the community, Hayman could not rule out the possibility that students from Yeshiva Tichonit at the community or outsiders may also be involved. Many of the community's youth were involved in anti-disengagement protests in the summer, he said, and without a doubt once the withdrawal from Gaza was complete a large majority of the youths found the situation hard to come to terms with. However, said Hayman hastily, nothing justified harassing the family. Adding to the tension, 30 families ousted from their homes in Netzer Hazani moved to the community, he said. "The youth are struggling. On one hand they feel that the disengagement plunged settlers into despair and find the situation hard to accept, and on the other hand we have tried to reinforce the message that no one has the right to judge those who were actively involved in the evacuation." Hispin is a religious community and home to 150 families. It boasts a Yeshiva Tichonit attended by students from all over the country, as well as a hesder yeshiva, elementary school and community center, Hayman said. "I hope we will successfully overcome the situation," said Hayman.