Yesha Commander's Comments Raise Resident's Ire
Comments made by Judea and Samaria brigade commander Nitzan Alon to the New York Times on Tuesday have raised the ire of Jewish residents who rely on him to ensure their lives.
In a wide-ranging interview, Alon expressed concern over "increasing violence" by "radical Israeli settlers," colloquially called 'price tag' operations, which he called “Jewish terrorism.”
A recent arson of a mosque in Tuba Zangaria and the desecration of Christian and Muslim graves in Yafo was at first widely blamed on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria by Israel's mainstream media and left-wingers, including defense minister Ehud Barak.
But the presiding judge in the arson case criticized the government's case against the young Jew accused of the crime, saying there was insufficient evidence, and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said his investigators believe the Yafo incident was the work of soccer hooligans.
During the NYT article, Alon also called on the US Congress not to freeze aid to the fiscally insolvent Palestinian Authority in response to the unilateral PA statehood bid saying such a step would lead to instability and insecurity - for Israel, although commenting on political issues is not the mandate of IDF personnel. Even ordinary IDF soldiers are forbidden to join political demonstrations during their term of active service.
Benny Katzover, spokesman for the settlement of Petach Tikva, said, "Brigadier General Alon himself practices 'price tag' operations when he spit on the rule of law and sought to persuade members of Congress to act in opposition to the American political leadership ".
"We call on Prime Minister [Netanyahu] to mention remind [Alon] of his role, his duty to protect residents of Judea and Samaria, and the division between the political and military echelons. And we call to prevent the defense minister from advancing [Alon] to his next job," he said.
Activist Baruch Marzel said, "left-wing political statements by Nitzan Alon favor Arabs over Jews and reinforce the fact that officers like him are the major cause of 'price tag' operations due to strong feelings of discrimination."
Alon has been the cause of extreme frustration for Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria who feel his frequently-expressed personal political opinions have defined his command and left them vulnerable to attack.
In a typical statement that has stoked such feelings, Alon said that a few years ago Israeli troops went into the West Bank more than a dozen times a night, but that is down by half now. Fewer, which he has recommended in the past, would require a political decision, he said.
Nor was has Alon's left-handed endorsement of a Gaza-like disengagement from Jewish communities in his region of operations missed.
In response to Prime Minister Netanyahu's saying the disengagement from Gaza resulted in terror, raising concerns for the future of Judea and Samaria under the PA, Alon said "cut and paste" analogies should be avoided.
"Truth is a spiral staircase," Alon said , "What looks true on one level may not be true on the next higher level.”
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan described Alon's politicking as "foolish and scandalous."
"As Alon's comments do not express the government's policy, it is an even bigger scandal," Dayan said. "That a senior officer in uniform parades his political views in the pages of The New York Times instead of deferring to the position of the government is unacceptable. The same applies to the words of Brigadier General Alon on the necessity of a 'political process to preserve security.’"
"I miss the days which commanders did not set conditions for their ability to provide security for Israel," Danon added.