Pullout Practice Halted Due to Police Violence

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Ezra HaLevi, | updated: 15:43

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The IDF and Police force are drawing harsh criticism following the broadcast of exercises training soldiers and police to remove Jewish residents from their homes by force.

A joint IDF and police Disengagement exercise was temporarily suspended Wednesday due to extreme violence on the part of police against the IDF soldiers playing the roles of the residents slated for expulsion from their homes in Gaza and northern Samaria.

The exercise was broadcast on every one of Israel's nightly news programs, featuring soldiers dressed as caricatures of the religious residents of Gaza, replete with the use of prayer shawls and phylacteries. In one case a female soldier was depicted laughing while wearing phylacteries, the leather boxes and straps worn by observant men when praying.

The Land of Israel Task Force filed a request with the IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz and the Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi, "to cease the production, which is a mockery of the residents and offensive to Jewish values."

"We are requesting that an immediate order be given to IDF commanders and spokespeople to stop presenting, through every media outlet, those who are against the Disengagement as 'the enemy,' " wrote attorney Aviad Vissouly. "As if the presentation of the residents and their supporters as the enemy wasn't bad enough, they are presenting them to the media in a mocking and humiliating fashion...Only anti-Semetic and neo-Nazi organizations would consider presenting the sacred items of Judaism in such a degrading and humiliating manner."

The task force offered the IDF the services of actual anti-expulsion activists for the exercises instead of soldiers dressed up. "Perhaps then it will be revealed clearly just how violently the IDF and police are implementing the Disengagement with regard to the residents," he wrote.

The commander of the Karakal Battalion suspended the exercises at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom Wednesday due to severe violence against his soldiers, who were dressed as anti-expulsion activists, on the part of the border police taking part in the practice expulsion.

The commanders, witnessing the intense violence and receiving numerous complaints from their soldiers, halted the practice and called a meeting to discuss the border police behavior.

Similar complaints were received by soldiers participating in Disengagement exercises at the Julis IDF base last week and by Golani Brigade soldiers complaining of police violence at Kisufim Crossing and Kfar Maimon.