Rabbi Avichai Ronsky told Arutz Sheva on Thursday that it appears as though the IDF is seriously preparing to evict the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood from their homes.
Rabbi Ronsky is former Chief Military Rabbi of the Israel Defence Forces and today heads the yeshiva in the Shomron community of Itamar. He made the comments based on a conversation he had with Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Haggai Mordechai, a close friend of Ronsky’s.
On Wednesday, Mordechai met with Beit El Mayor Moshe Rosenbaum and asked him to ask the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood to voluntarily leave their homes, in order to avoid a confrontation. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the neighborhood must be demolished by July 1.
“Mordechai is an old friend of mine and he told me yesterday that as a military official, he is taking orders from the political leadership,” said Rabbi Ronsky. “He told me he gets orders from the GOC, who receives them from the Chief of Staff who receives orders from the Defense Minister. He said that, as of this moment, there is an evacuation order and a date, and the army is planning an operation to the last detail.”
Rabbi Ronsky added that Mordechai told him that caravans will be brought to the Ulpana neighborhood, confirming an Arutz Sheva report from earlier on Thursday.
“He told me that the army is preparing for the evacuation, and that the residents will first be evacuated and then the homes will be demolished,” he said. “He explained to me that the army is bringing the caravans so that the citizens will not be thrown into the street.”
Rabbi Ronsky also said that the meeting between Mordechai and the mayor of Beit El was initiated by Mordechai himself, confirming remarks by military officials that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had not approved the meeting.
“He told me that as a commander he must prepare for the evacuation order, so he is meeting with people and bringing up various options in order to be prepared for any scenario,” said Rabbi Ronsky.
He added that the Mordechai admitted that he'd be happy if the evacuation order will be canceled.
“He told me that no one will be happier than him if they let the army do what it was originallt assigned to do, which is to protect the residents of Judea and Samaria,” said Rabbi Ronsky. “But now, as commander of the division, he needs to prepare for any task. And if the task is to destroy the homes of Jews, he will do it in the most careful manner possible.”
Rabbi Ronsky expressed hope that the politicians will find a solution for the Ulpana neighborhood before it’s too late. A vote in the Knesset on a law to legalize Jewish outposts and disputed neighborhoods, including the Ulpana neighborhood, is scheduled for next week. The two groups which represent a large number of Likud activists have already launched a new campaign to encourage Likud ministers to vote in favor of the law.
On Wednesday, Minister Yuli Edelstein said that he will vote in favor of the law – even at the cost of being dismissed from his position. Last week it was speculated that Likud ministers – including Silvan Shalom, Gilad Erdan and Moshe Ya’alon – may vote in favor of the law, contrary to the position of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.