IDF retracts accusation that left-wing activists stoned soldiers

At issue is an incident that occurred while a number of activists were accompanying Palestinian shepherds herding their sheep.

 IDF operates in West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave, October 21, 2022 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF operates in West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave, October 21, 2022
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The IDF has retracted its accusation that a left-wing activist had on Friday thrown stones at soldiers in the South Hebron Hills region of the West Bank.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (National Resilience Party) apologized for condemning the stoning.

What actually happened near Mitzpe Avigail?

At issue is an incident that occurred while a number of activists were accompanying Palestinian shepherds herding their sheep.

Soldiers had stopped the activists and shepherds and asked them to leave the area near the Mitzpe Avigail outpost, explaining that it was a closed military zone.

In an exchange that was videotaped asked to see something in writing proving that the military had indeed shut down the area.

 Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at The Jerusalem Post conference. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks at The Jerusalem Post conference. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Upon investigating the incident the IDF said that the activists and the soldiers refused to evacuate a closed military area. During the exchange, one of the activists who was also an off-duty soldier, threw a stone at the sheep. 

Such stone-throwing is used to move sheep. The IDF said that technically speaking, given the position in which the sheep were located relative to where the soldiers stood, it had appeared at first as if the soldier had thrown a stone at the soldiers.

Now it was clear that no stones had been thrown at the soldiers, it said.

Gantz apologizes for condemnation

Gantz tweeted that last Friday he had issued a condemnation based on an "operational report." In the aftermath of an investigation, it is clear "that there was indeed a refusal to obey orders. Stones were thrown that were not aimed at soldiers - and that's a good thing."

"I will continue to back IDF soldiers and support them to fulfill their mission. I regret my declaration on the issue in light of the facts on the ground. 

"I welcome the clarification of these facts," Ganz said.