Ariel Gruner
Ariel GrunerIsrael news photo: Flash 90

In response to the abrupt announcement that three activists may not return to their homes in Samaria for six months, residents say leftists have taken over the army’s Central Command.

Early Monday morning, IDF Central District Commander Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni issued orders banning two prominent Land of Israel activists from returning to their homes, or anywhere in the Shomron (Samaria), for the next six months. The two are Ariel Gruner and Akiva HaCohen, both fathers of four children and residents of Yitzhar in the Shomron. 

This is not the first time for either of them: In July 2006, Gruner - whose youngest son is now ten days old - was placed in prison for seven weeks under administrative detention orders generally employed against Arab terrorists. He was then placed under “caravan arrest” in a small Jordan Valley community for three months, followed by a three-month ban on entering Judea and Samaria. In August 2008, HaCohen was banned from the Shomron, where he lives, for four months.

A Third Expellee

Several hours later, Shamni issued similar orders against a third Yitzhar resident, Eliav Eliyahu, 19, who has been married for less than a year.

The official explanation for the latest orders: “Information has been received of their involvement in violent and illegal activity… and in light of the genuine danger foreseen from them to security and public order.”

The Shomron Residents Committee responded, “This decision by Gen. Shamni to distance two young men from their families for six months with the weak excuse of ‘danger’ is an evil, arbitrary, cruel and brutal move. The radical left has taken over the top brass of the Central Command, making intolerable use of their authority and power, and the Prime Minister and the Cabinet ministers of the nationalist camp must put an end to this phenomenon.”

Worse Conditions than Prisoners

David Ha'ivri, Director of the Shomron Liaison Office, said: "The forced banishment of men who are providers for their families causes unfair damage to their income and disrupts their families' well-being... If there is credible evidence of any wrongdoing, let a trial take place; extrajudicial moves have no place in Israel's legal system. Moreover, we demand that all expenses such as loss of livelihood, etc., be covered by the State."

Yitzhar spokesman Yigal Amitai noted that jailed prisoners are provided with room and board, and their families are also provided for in some form, whereas "in this case, it appears that as far as the State is concerned, these activists can simply evaporate; there is no provision for alternative housing or sustenance."

Undemocratic Tools

The Land of Israel Faithful Movement stated: “We sharply and unambiguously condemn these distancing orders. We demand that the Government of Israel – a nationalist government – put an immediate halt to this wrongful use of these non-democratic tools that are reminiscent of dark periods in our history.”

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) criticized what he called the “thought police,” and asked why it is that pro-Arab activists and anarchists in the Bil’in and Naalin protests “who throw rocks at soldiers” never receive such orders.