IDF exercise in Judea and Samaria
IDF exercise in Judea and SamariaIDF

During classified deliberations in the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, it became clear that the IDF had considered practicing a situation in which residents of Judea and Samaria took over a Palestinian town, including the taking of hostages, but the exercise was not put into practice and eventually abandoned.

The decision not to carry out the exercise was made after senior officers claimed that the situation was extreme and unrealistic. The senior members of the Central Command entirely dismissed the possibility.

The IDF did not deny that the situation was suggested. The IDF Spokesman's Office stated: “The situation was not approved and not practiced.”

Approximately 3 weeks ago, the Judea and Samaria division practiced a scenario of the abduction of a Palestinian by Jews, as a result of the murder of an infant in a rock-throwing attack near the Samaria town of Kedumim.

General Yehuda Fox, who is appointed over the IDF Central Command, was present and supervised the exercise. The exercise simulated the abduction of an Arab from the town of Funduq by two Jews to the town of Ramat Gilad in Samaria. Soldiers who portrayed the settlers wore high visibility vests labeled ‘Enemy’, and were arrested by ISA Jewish Department forces and the IDF’s elite undercover unit Duvdevan.

Due to the controversy among Israel's politicians and the protest of various government leaders in Judea and Samaria, the IDF spokesman's office stated “During an extensive exercise in the Judea and Samaria division to improve the division's preparedness and the defense of the region and the protection of the residence security, more than 100 scenarios were practiced, including extreme scenarios.”

“The IDF did not practice a scenario in which the settlers were the enemy, and the label on the vests worn to differentiate those practicing from those supervising the exercise is part of ordinary safety measures during an exercise. In this particular instance, it was a mistake to use such a label and we are sorry for that. The IDF has a close connection with the settlement, and works to protect them around the clock with their cooperation.”

Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi published an official apology, stating: “The IDF is fighting on all fronts, and in Judea and Samaria forces are contending with terrorism in a complex environment. The exercise that was carried out was intended to prepare the forces to contend with a wide variety of scenarios, with the aim of improving their preparedness. Nevertheless, the scenario in question was unnecessary and a mistake. We will investigate and learn, and we apologize to anyone who was offended by this.”

General Fox apologized as well: “It was a mistake to practice this specific scenario of the abduction of a Palestinian by Israelis. We will increase our supervision of the scenarios being practiced in the future. We had no intention of offending the residents, and I sincerely apologize to everyone who was offended. Our mission is to protect the residents, and we are doing so. We made a mistake, and we will investigate, learn, apply, and improve in short order.”