Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi
Chief of Staff Herzi HaleviIDF Spokesperson

Reserve soldiers from the Hod Battalion 9221 serving in Judea and Samaria wrote a harsh letter to Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi following the exercise in which the IDF treated settlers as 'enemies.’

Last night the Judea and Samaria Division practiced a scenario of the kidnapping of a Palestinian Arab by Jewish settlers, in response to the murder of a baby girl in a stone attack near Kedumim in Samaria.

Commander of the Central Command, Major General Yehuda Fuchs, attended and supervised the exercise, which simulated the kidnapping of an Arab from the village of Al Funduq by two Jews to the community of Ramat Gilad in Samaria. Soldiers impersonating the settlers wore a yellow vest with the words "Enemy" on the front and were "arrested" by the Shin Bet and the Duvdevan elite unit.

In the letter, the reservists wrote: "We are reservists in Battalion 9221 who have been stationed for over 120 days in a combat role in the Ephraim Sector in Samaria. Yesterday, our reserve battalion was called to a Central Command exercise, in which we had to rehearse a delusional and detached scenario of murder and kidnapping of Arabs by settlers and mass riots of Jewish residents against Arabs. We are shocked and embarrassed by this shameful incident, which we were forced to participate in without prior knowledge. We feel that we were used in a cynical and contemptuous manner.”

They claimed that, "The IDF is preparing itself for war and we had to take part in it." It is ridiculous that these preparations include waging war on our settler brothers as well. From our acquaintance with the settlers in our region over the past four months, during which they have showered us with warmth and love, they are the salt of the earth, and many of them are fighting in Gaza. We know how much the reality simulated in the exercise is totally unfounded and this scenario shows the way that the Central Command is cooperating with the blood libels against residents of Judea and Samaria."

They also added that "some of the soldiers in our battalion live in communities in Judea and Samaria, and we are shocked that the Central Command chose to put us in such a situation. We are ashamed towards the members of our families that we left behind, who are hearing that this is what we are doing. We are ashamed towards the dear residents of Judea and Samaria and we are ashamed of the spirit that brought the Central Command to undertake such an exercise.”

"We were disappointed and ashamed to find out that the head of the Central Command Major General Yehuda Fox was present and did not prevent the shameful exercise, but even took part in commanding what was happening. To use the IDF reserve fighters as a tool that cooperates with an operation to dehumanize the settlers and the State of Israel is a bad choice and lacks an understanding of the greater threats. We apologize to the residents of Kedumim, Karnei Shomron, Yakir and Revava for unknowingly taking part in such an outrageous event."

"We, as reservists, left our families and our jobs to protect the residents of the State of Israel from our enemy, and now we feel hurt. We have lost our trust in the high command. The IDF spokesman's apology issued yesterday referred to the writing on the vests. The writing is not the problem, but the essence of the incident. The IDF spokesperson's announcement shows no recognition of the seriousness of the incident. We call on you, the Chief of Staff, to issue a public apology by the IDF to the residents and conduct an extensive investigation on the matter and remove those responsible in the central command. It is up to you to repair our trust in the senior command. We serve every day out of great personal sacrifice."

We hope that the injustice will be corrected our trust restored in the command so that the 60 days of reserve duty that we have left will be used in the most professional manner, recognizing our just way to achieve victory over our enemy," the letter reads.