Daily Israel Report

Mothers of Soldiers Protest IDF´s Embrace of ´Machsom Watch´

Mothers of Nachshon Brigade soldiers protested opposite the Bekaot army base against the IDF's intention to allow women from the left-wing Machsom Watch organization to address the soldiers.
By Ezra HaLevi
First Publish: 2/23/2006, 2:01 PM / Last Update: 2/23/2006, 4:41 PM


The brigade has been assigned to man security checkpoints in Samaria, and the IDF has decided to allow them to be briefed by the Machsom [checkpoint, in Hebrew] Watch organization. Machsom Watch is a women's group that has taken upon itself to aggressively monitor soldiers' behavior towards Arabs at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria. The women often file complaints against soldiers they deem too thorough.

Soldiers learned of the intentions to invite Machsom Watch and registered their protest with their commanders. They asked that they not be compelled to attend the session, but were ignored.

Soldiers then turned to Arutz-7, protesting what they saw as the infiltration of politics into the ranks of the IDF. In response to Arutz-7's query, the IDF spokesman said that the briefing does not constitute an inappropriate mixing of politics into military service, but rather a positive phenomenon that creates dialogue between soldiers and the women of Machsom Watch. The IDF, he said, hopes to continue such dialogues in the future as well.

“This is outrageous,” said D., a mother of one of the soldiers stationed at the base who asked that her name not be published "so as not to cause trouble for my son." “Our sons have gotten in trouble for wearing orange bracelets or shirts [symbols of protest against expulsion of Jews from parts of Israel], even been disciplined for asking pointed questions to commanding officers when told they can speak freely – and now our children are being forced to sit and listen to these women, who value the convenience of an Arab terrorist over the safety of a soldier. The IDF is forcing these young men to listen to a lecture from people who have declared the entire existence of security checkpoints to be immoral and nobody will even take responsibility and tell us who gave this order on high.”

D. and two dozen other mothers of Nachshom soldiers set out toward the Jordan Valley Thursday in order to protest outside the Bekaot army base, where the Machsom Watch women are due to arrive at 5 PM. The mothers say they plan to do their best not to let them in.

MK Tzvi Hendel (National Union) wrote a sharp letter to Defense Minister Sha’ul Mofaz and IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz:
“The women of Machsom Watch identify with the extreme left, but are being allowed into an IDF base under the guise of delivering a lecture on ethics. These are the same women who for months have been interfering with IDF soldiers fulfilling their duties at checkpoints, endangering them. I request that the IDF continue to implement its age-old ethic and not allow extremist groups to deliver lectures in IDF bases – and ban the entry of these women.”

D. said, “We are here to either prevent, to the best of our ability, these women from entering the base or demand that we be allowed to go in with them to deliver our perspective to the soldiers there.”