newsIsrael at War

IDF confirms Jewish nationalistic crime in Judea and Samaria drops drastically

Many cases that left-wing activists reported as "settler attacks" turned out to be false, the region's police commander says.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Judea and Samaria leaders, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Judea and Samaria leaders, Nov. 8, 2023. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO.

There was a significant decline in “nationalistic incidents” perpetrated by Israelis in Judea and Samaria during the second month of the current Gaza war, figures gathered by the police and the IDF indicate.

According to police data, this is the second consecutive month with a decline of about 50% in incidents compared to the equivalent period in 2022. This amounts to about 50 incidents on average per month, compared to a figure twice the size during the same months in 2022.

According to the IDF, in the first month of the war, there was actually an increase in incidents of this kind. However, in the second month of “Operation Swords of Iron,” a decline of about 50% in incidents was noted.

The police, the agency that is officially tasked with collecting the data, says that the discrepancy in the number of cases between the two bodies can be attributed to instances where rapid response teams in Jewish communities were involved in incidents that were believed to be “settler violence.”

Members of the rapid response teams were drafted into reserve military service in the IDF and operated within this framework. In the first weeks of the war, they were on high alert following the Hamas attack and therefore reacted aggressively.

Although carried out by rapid response teams, the IDF counted these incidents as “settler violence.” Additionally, the police explain that since the teams in those cases are soldiers on reserve duty, the police are prevented from investigating them and clarifying the details of the incidents.

In the Judea and Samaria District Police, there is surprise over the figures collected by the IDF in the first weeks of the war that supposedly show that there had been a spike in such incidents. Criticism is directed especially at the head of IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, who made the issue a top priority and conveyed it upward to the top military and political echelon, and downward to brigade commanders in Judea and Samaria.

IDF Central Command

Fox has said that “99.9% of the half a million residents of the West Bank are normative law-abiding citizens, many of whom are currently being called into the Gaza war effort,” and has also emphasized that the violent individuals are “a handful of felons.” However, he apparently pays a great deal of attention to that handful. Thus, for example, at a Cabinet meeting held in November at Central Command headquarters, he presented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ministers with data he had collected on the spike in incidents.

The commander of the Israel Police Judea and Samaria District, Uzi Levy, was not invited to the meeting. Police officials believe Levy was excluded from the discussion so that the political echelon would not be exposed to the data collected by the police, which show a decrease in incidents and not an increase.

Police sources further noted that two years ago, an inter-agency effort was launched to sort and count incidents suspected of having nationalist motives using a standardized method, with the police being tasked with collecting the data.

The police have subsequently adopted that method. The IDF count, police sources claim, is unprofessional and inaccurate, and has damaged Israel’s international image. In conversations with Israeli community leaders in Judea and Samaria, Levy claimed that Fox had been misled by “extremist left-wing anarchists who have been deliberately creating friction so that the Arabs clash with settlers, and ultimately lay the blame on the settlers—but in many cases, they are the ones causing the incidents.”

The district commander told the heads of Jewish municipalities about a case in which he received a phone call from Fox with a demand to arrest Israelis. “Why did you arrest the Palestinians and not the Jews?” Fox asked him. Levy replied that the riot control forces who were at the scene acted according to professional judgment.

“His views are known, but we only look at the facts. Opinions and color don’t interest us,” a senior police officer says about Fox. “We investigate every complaint to its fullest. Some anarchists come to stir up tension in the area. They do not cooperate with investigations. For example, they do not agree to an autopsy, making it very difficult to conclude what happened in an incident. What is certain is that it is not the role of the army to conduct investigations. Therefore, the statements coming out of the IDF and the major general are not based on facts.”

The senior officer noted that National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir backs the police, and now the rest of the political echelon also knows the real data.

Judging from conversations with IDF officials, it appears that in recent days the police and communities’ criticism of Fox’s line has finally been registered. A security source told Israel Hayom that “due to the joint effort of the defense establishment and settlement leaders in recent months, there has been a significant decrease in the number of nationalistic incidents and that any report on an incident that reaches the security establishment could impact the overall assessment of the situation, and therefore it is thoroughly examined.”

Left-wing activists reported false cases

In Central Command they reportedly now also agree that many cases that left-wing activists reported as “settler attacks” turned out to be false. One of many alleged fabrications occurred in Halhul, three miles north of Hebron. An organization posted on Facebook that 50 “settlers” raided the village, caused tremendous damage, beat people up, and confiscated property. After a few hours, it turned out that this was an IDF operation to locate weapons, which were indeed found in the village, and was carried out properly.

The problem is that severe damage to Israel has been inflicted. The IDF’s confirmation of “settler violence” allegation led the entire American leadership to adopt this language.

The U.S. administration even announced the denial of visas to those “radical settlers,” and worse—in American discourse, a kind of “moral balance” was created between Hamas crimes and “settler violence.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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