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Outgoing IDF commander blasts ‘Jewish violence,’ praises PA, sparking outrage

"The [security] 'conception' general is going home," said Religious Zionism Party MK Zvi Sukkot. "Goodbye and see you never."

Outgoing IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox at his retirement ceremony held at the Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, July 8, 2024. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.
Outgoing IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox at his retirement ceremony held at the Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, July 8, 2024. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.

Israeli lawmakers and local leaders on Monday night harshly criticized the outgoing head of IDF Central Command, which includes Judea and Samaria, after he accused Jewish residents of “adopting the ways of the enemy” and stressed the need for a “strong Palestinian Authority.”

Otzma Yehudit Party lawmaker Limor Son Har-Melech called Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox’s remarks “alarming and dangerous.” Military officials “must understand that their job is to protect Israeli citizens from our enemies, and not to persecute the loyal settlers or strengthen the P.A.,” she said.

“The P.A. encourages and finances terrorism, and the difference with Hamas is only their abilities,” she added. “If the P.A. could do the same to us as Hamas, it would do so without hesitation.”

The lawmaker expressed the hope that Fox’s replacement, Maj. Gen. Avi Bluth, “will recognize that the real danger comes from the Arabs and not the Jewish residents. He must change the wrong [security] ‘conception’ and focus on the real threat facing the citizens of Israel.”

“The [security] ‘conception’ general is going home,” Religious Zionism Party MK Zvi Sukkot told Hebrew media. “Goodbye and see you never.”

Incoming IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Avi Bluth (left), Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox (center) and Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi at a handover ceremony held at the Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem, July 8, 2024. Photo by Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90.

“Unfortunately, during wartime, the outgoing general decided to focus on unrepresentative incidents,” said Israel Ganz, head of the Yesha Council, which represents the some 500,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria.

Ganz, who also heads the Binyamin Regional Council in Samaria, noted that the number of violent incidents committed by Israelis against Arab residents of the territory has dropped significantly, while Palestinian terrorists slaughtered dozens of Jews during Fox’s three-year tenure.

“Any other emphasis does an injustice to the reality, to the heroic settlers, and to the reputation of the State of Israel,” said Ganz.

“The concept that the IDF needs to preserve the P.A. in order to uphold Israel’s security is what turned Jenin and Nablus into Gaza, a meter from Netanya and Kfar Saba,” he added.

Samaria Regional Council leader Yossi Dagan denounced Fox’s remarks as a “spit in the face” of fallen IDF troops from Judea and Samaria.

Multiple Israeli outlets cited an unnamed senior leader in Judea and Samaria as saying that Fox “behaved like a bull in a china shop today.”

“An officer of his level should not create problems but promote solutions,” he said of Fox, charging that “during his tenure, it sometimes seemed as if he was eager to fight marginalized youth and not terrorists.”

Esti and Shalom Yaniv—whose two sons were murdered in a February 2023 terror attack in Huwara, Samaria—told Arutz 7 they were “deeply saddened that Gen. Fox, under whose command our children were killed in a murderous attack, decided to lash out at marginal acts that don’t even represent a minority of Judea and Samaria residents.

“Rather than taking responsibility for one of the most difficult periods in Judea and Samaria under his command and talking about the terror that rears its head time and time again, Fox chose to ignore this.”

Meanwhile, Fox received praise from Labor Party leader Yair Golan and Labor lawmaker Gilad Kariv, as well as the left-wing Peace Now NGO.

“Thank you for the truth, Maj. Fox. You should listen to the words of the man who was responsible for the security of the Israelis in the West Bank,” Peace now said in a Hebrew-language X post on Monday night.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox
OC Central Command Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox at the Western Wall during the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, March 15, 2024. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Speaking at his retirement ceremony at Central Command headquarters in the northern Jerusalem, Fox had lamented that “nationalist crime reared its head under the auspices of war. It sowed chaos and fear in Palestinian residents who did not pose any threat.

“The local leadership, and most of the spiritual leadership, did not see the threat as we did. It is deterred and does not find the strength to oppose it openly. This is not my Judaism. At least not the one I grew up with in my father and mother’s house. This is not the way of the Torah. It is adopting the ways of the enemy.”

Of the P.A., Fox said the army’s “ability to fulfill its tasks also depends on the existence of a functioning and strong P.A., with effective security mechanisms that maintain law and order.

“Concern for the lives of Palestinians … is not just the responsibility of the commander of the Central Command by law, and not only a moral value, it also serves the security interest of the State of Israel.”

Some coalition lawmakers, as well as representatives of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, boycotted the handover ceremony. 

Over the past years, Fox’s policies had regularly been criticized by Israeli residents, right-wing activists and politicians.

Judea and Samaria saw a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks in recent months, with shootings reaching their highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000-05 in 2023, according to official military data.

However, Fox repeatedly ignored government and public calls to restore IDF security checkpoints and roadblocks near Palestinian terrorist hotspots in the Jordan Valley and northern Samaria, critics charged.

Tensions reached a boiling point in February when troops were ordered to conduct a training exercise that included a scenario simulating the kidnapping of Arabs by Jewish residents of Samaria.

Fox’s replacement, Maj. Gen. Bluth, previously led the Judea and Samaria Division and served as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military secretary from 2018 until 2021, when the premier was voted out.

He grew up in Neve Tzuf in the Binyamin region of Samaria and studied at the Bnei David religious Zionist pre-military academy in Eli. He is the school’s first alumnus to be promoted to the rank of major general.

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