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IDF general balks government on illegal Palestinian construction

IDF Central Command chief Yehuda Fuchs is not heeding requests to deploy enough troops to secure enforcement operations. Sources: He fears being accused of selective action in light of lax enforcement policy for Jewish communities.

Incoming head of IDF Central Command Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at IDF Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, Aug. 11, 2021. Photo by Flash90.
Incoming head of IDF Central Command Brig. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at IDF Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, Aug. 11, 2021. Photo by Flash90.

Israel Defense Forces Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs has been unilaterally undercutting official government policy by cutting down the number of forces allocated to the enforcement of Palestinian construction violations in Judea and Samaria, according to Israel Hayom.

As a result, the government’s policy of cracking down on illegal construction has never been fully implemented.

Data obtained by Israel Hayom shows that in recent weeks there has been a drastic decrease in measures against illegal Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria because of the decision to draw down the number of forces who could be used to secure demolition operations in Palestinian towns—thus preventing the officials from executing such warrants and other enforcement-related actions.

Fuchs refused to heed a request to provide the troops required by the enforcement policy of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who has been tasked with handling civilian matters in Judea and Samaria.

The minister sent a letter to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that they instruct Fuchs to help implement enforcement operations. The letter accuses Fuchs of putting a spoke in the wheels of the government for non-professional reasons.

A source in the Civil Administration told Israel Hayom that “as far as the general is concerned, he is the sovereign on the ground. He sees Smotrich has scaled back tackling illegal Jewish construction, so he does not want to be suspected of selective enforcement that could result in legal action against him.”

Likud lawmakers slammed the major general following the Israel Hayom report. Likud MK Dan Illouz tweeted:

“The illegal construction among Arabs in Judea and Samaria is rampant. You can clearly see it on the ground. The political echelon sets the strategic agenda while the military echelon is the operator. This is how things must be conducted, otherwise, we will have anarchy. The general’s actions are beyond the pale.”

Netanyahu vowed in January shortly after his government was sworn in to combat illegal Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria.

“We’ll fight against illegal building by Palestinians,” said Netanyahu, who qualified that this did not mean that the government would “enable illegal Israeli building” in Area C, which is under full Israeli jurisdiction.

“What’s important to me is that all heads of the coalition parties agree upon this,” he added.

According to the Israeli NGO Regavim, there are more than 170 illegal outposts in Area C of Judea and Samaria, created by the Palestinian Authority and funded by the European Union. A Regavim report in October of last year found that illegal construction in Area C increased by 80% during the tenure of former defense minister Benny Gantz.

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

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