IDF exercise
IDF exerciseIDF Spokesperson

The IDF held a divisional exercise in the Ephraim Brigade in which soldiers simulated the response to the kidnapping of a Palestinian Arab by Jewish Israeli settlers.

The specific scenario was the kidnapping of an Arab man from the village of Al-Funduq in Samaria by two settlers and the bringing of the captive to the Jewish community of Ramat Gil'ad.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir responded to the report and said that "the report on the exercise conducted by the Central Command, in the framework of which they simulated the 'kidnapping of an Arab by settlers,' is delusional and complete madness."

"At a time when 136 Israeli hostages are being held captive by the Hamas Nazis, the commander orders an exercise centered on demonizing the settlers. The settlers are not kidnapping Arabs. They are not even suspected of planning anything close to that. The opposite is true: Arabs are walking around in the settlements in Judea and Samaria without any fear. The existence of such an exercise constitutes full cooperation in the 'settler violence' blood libel," Ben-Gvir said.

"I call on Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to immediately intervene in the issue and investigate the incident. We will not allow such serious conduct to continue," he concluded.

Binyamin Regional Governer Yisrael Ganz said, "Whoever, in a time of war in which the settlers are mobilized to the maximum on all fronts, builds such a scenario that has never been seen before, is morally and operationally confused. We have been aware of this confusion for two years. They did not listen to us."

"I call on the IDF to conduct an investigation into the obviously offensive and non-operational scenario. This confusion tarnishes the name of the settlers and the State of Israel," he said.

The regional council chairmen in Judea and Samaria, Yossi Dagan, Chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, Shlomo Ne’eman, Chairman of the Yesha Regional Council and Mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, and Chairman of the Binyamin Regional Council, Yisrael Gantz, issued an emergency appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant to discharge the person who wrote the exercise carried out by the central command.

“We demand that the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense discharge the person who wrote the exercise at a time like this. Whoever knows how to discharge reserve combat soldiers who recite psalms in a mosque in Jenin most definitely knows how to discharge the commander who planned an exercise that not only discredits the Judea and Samaria communities, but also endangers lives, since he is wasting ammunition and manpower on a fictitious scenario instead of training for a real scenario. We demand that you conduct an inspection of the central command that operates so many aspects of this war so absurdly that it has culminated in this delusional exercise. There is someone in the central command who is still under the illusion that we are pre-October 7th. We are not prepared to put the lives of our residents in danger, and we will not have it as part of the agenda.”

The exercise was revealed by the Torat Lehima organization.

The IDF spokesperson said in response to the controversy surrounding the exercise, "During a wide-ranging exercise in the Judea and Samaria Division to improve the readiness of the division and the defense in the area to maintain the security of the residents, over a hundred different scenarios were practiced, including extreme scenarios."

"The IDF does not rehearse scenarios simulating settlers as the enemy, and the purpose of the labeling in question was to distinguish trainee from trainee, as part of the exercise safety routine. In the current case, it was a mistake to label them thusly and we apologize for that. The IDF has a close relationship with the settlements, and it works to protect them around the clock and in cooperation."