Leaked IDF plans may increase sense of persecution

Leaked IDF plans may inc

"Paralyzing force," "element of surprise" and "target bank" are just some of the military jargon that was used in the Central Command order on enforcing the West Bank construction freeze, which was obtained by settlers and leaked to the media, including The Jerusalem Post, over the weekend. Running nearly 20 pages, the text is accompanied by maps and diagrams describing the chain of command in future demolition or evacuation operations that may be launched if settlers or contractors continue building in violation of the 10-month moratorium. On the one hand, the order and the way it was written should not come as a surprise. When given a directive from the political echelon, the IDF's first job is to draft orders that are then disseminated throughout the chain of command to the various relevant units, in this case the IDF regional brigades, the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, the Israel Police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). As can be expected from a serious, western military, the IDF took into consideration a wide range of scenarios such as extreme violent resistance to the demolition of an illegally built home and the possible need to deploy elite police counter-terror squads. What is surprising in the order is the description of the type of force the IDF plans to use if and when it is called on to demolish and evacuate such a home. In some sections, it is almost as if someone in the IDF took a preexisting order and replaced the word "Palestinians" with "settlers." It should be noted that this was merely a first draft of the order; it was sent following the government's decision last month to impose a freeze to a short list of people, who then made comments. The public does not know what the final order looks like, but according to one source familiar with the document there are significant differences. Another explanation for the way the order was written is its author - the OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi. Mizrachi came through the ranks of the Armored Corps and has had little experience dealing with settler communities in the West Bank. He served as the head of the Ground Forces Command and before that as commander of Division 36, deployed along the Syrian border. As one officer quipped on Sunday: "This order goes into the type of detail that one would expect if the IDF was being sent to conquer the Golan again." This does not mean that Mizrachi is against the settlers or their leadership. From his perspective, he was doing his job by writing a detailed plan, as expected from the Central Command when faced with such a complicated operation. Mizrachi should primarily be concerned with discovering who leaked the order to the settlers - and plugging that leak. But as is often the case, timing is everything. As the newspapers hit the stands on Sunday, some 50 hesder yeshiva rabbis were waking up for their drive to the Or Etzion Yeshiva in Merkaz Shapira to discuss Defense Minister Ehud Barak's recent decision to expel the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the IDF's hesder program. The coincidental timing of the publication with the rabbis' gathering has likely exacerbated the sense of persecution in some right-wing circles, reinforcing their belief that the government is "out to get" the settlers. While the veracity of such a sentiment can be endlessly debated, it could create an even greater challenge for the IDF if it is translated from mere frustration to violent resistance by settlement residents and/or insubordination within military ranks.