Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, commander of the IDF’s Judea and Samaria division, has distributed a letter to commanders in his division in which he asks them to investigate soldiers who are residents of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. The reason for the request, according to Alon, is a concern that these soldiers may leak information regarding future evacuation of outpost communities.
“As commanders we must thoroughly check and characterize the backgrounds of our soldiers,” Alon wrote in the letter, the contents of which were revealed by Israel’s Channel 10 News on Sunday. “We have to interview those soldiers who have the potential to harm national security and give them roles in which they are not exposed to sensitive information.”
In the letter, Alon details two recent cases in which soldiers disrupted the activities of the division. The first case occurred in February, when a soldier in the Givati Brigade received a report on the construction of an illegal outpost in Samaria and decided not to report to the unit that was supposed to evict the residents.
The soldier was later sent to the brig for 30 days after being found guilty of lying to his commanders.
Another case described in the letter occurred in March, when soldiers from Battalion 82 were ordered to prevent local residents from going to Homesh, a Jewish community in northern Samaria that had been evacuated during the 2005 disengagement but was resettled by a group of activists in 2007. Since then, the community has been a target for evacuation several times.
In the letter, Alon describes how one of the soldiers in Battalion 82 passed information to the residents so they could avoid military forces. This soldier too was suspended from his position and was later tried and removed from the IDF.
“These are serious incidents which cause damage and are a behavioral failure on the part of the soldiers,” writes Brigadier General Alon. “There is no room to involve political opinions in operational tasks, and commanders must to act to prevent similar incidents in future.”
The IDF said in response that the document is designed to serve as a tool for commanders in Judea and Samaria.
“We suggest reading the whole document and not portions of it which were distributed by interested parties whose aim was to distort its content and distort reality,” read the IDF’s response.
MK Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, chairman of the National Union party also responded to the document, saying, “it should be said in praise of Brigadier General Nitzan Alon that he does not hide his disgust of hundreds of thousands of residents of Judea and Samaria.”
Katz, whose seven sons serve in elite IDF units and who himself served in Sayeret Shaked and lost his leg during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, added: “Religious IDF officers and soldiers have been brought up with the values of construction and planting in the land of the forefathers and not with values of destruction and displacement. Since every soldier and officer who wears a skullcap prays at least three times in favor of building the Holy Temple on the Temple Mount, according to Brigadier General Alon they are suspected of violating state security. I call on the Prime Minister to order the immediate suspension of Brigadier General Alon, followed by his removal from the ranks of the IDF.”
Benny Katzover, chairman of the Samaria Residents’ Committee, also responded to Alon’s letter, saying: “Only a leftist officer such as Brigadier General Nitzan Alon would push away from military service soldiers who have different political views from his own. This is an intolerable discrimination between soldiers simply because of political affiliation, and it should be examined by the officials in charge of the division commander.”