In a special interview with Israel National News, the IDF Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, said progress has been made in the investigation of the horrific attack in Itamar, which left a married couple and three of their children dead.
Alon said dozens of suspects had been arrested by the Israel Security Agency to clarify their connection to, or involvement in, the murders of the Fogel family.
Alon unequivocally rejected claims that removing checkpoints made the attacks possible and put Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria at greater risk, insisting the current IDF doctrine of setting up surprise checkpoints based on real-time intelligence data is more effective than static, well-known checkpoints.
Responding to criticism in the wake of the attacks that legal delays prevented construction of a safe route to Itamar, and has impeded IDF security operations in Judea and Samaria, Alon said, "...the legal advisers... it is important to have an opinion, but it is only advice. The IDF determines when and where it needs to deploy for the security of residents."
Alon spoke out strongly against "Price Tag" operations carried out by some residents of Judea and Samaria as an expression of frustration with government policies and perceived inaction. "We're out here because of attacks and terrorist activity not directly related to right-wing activists. We must understand this is a marginal activity that hurts the settlers and undermines their safety. I expect rabbis and heads of communities in Judea and Samaria to condemn such activity."
Regular IDF soldiers under Alon's command have not been deployed to deal with "Price Tag" operations, but the Military Border Police in Judea and Samaria are another story.
While Alon has sometimes been criticized by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria for what they perceive as IDF laxity towards frequently hostile Arab neighbors, he has been a vocal proponent of IDF preparedness vis-a-vis US-trained Palestinian Authority security forces.
Shortly after overseeing training exercises for the Nachshon Battalion [which provides security in Judea and Samaria – ed.] that included simulated battles against PA forces, Alon said, "Central Command must prepare for an eventuality in which the PA becomes an enemy and will cease operating against terror units as it does today."