IDF kit helps officers explain disengagement
The kit makes no mention of the public debate in Israel over the settlements; it describes pro-settlement groups such as Gush Emunim ("Bloc of the Faithful"), but not anti-settlement groups such as Peace Now.
All settlements in the territories are part of the historic continuum of Zionist settlement in the Land of Israel, which has enjoyed the support of all Israeli governments, according to an explanatory kit on the disengagement plan prepared by the Israel Defense Forces' Education Corps.
The kit makes no mention of the public debate in Israel over the settlements; it describes pro-settlement groups such as Gush Emunim ("Bloc of the Faithful"), but not anti-settlement groups such as Peace Now. It also makes no mention of the 1980s-era Jewish Underground, which emerged from the settler movement.
The kit, which is supposed to be used by officers in conversations with their soldiers about the disengagement, contains a videotape, two audiotapes and 11 pamphlets on subjects such as Israel's democratic system, freedom of speech and its limits, the obligation to obey orders, the settlements, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In the kit's introduction, Chief Education Officer Brigadier General Ilan Harari writes that the disengagement differs from other army operations, because "it is directed not at the enemy, but at our brothers, who, via their settlement activity in the communities destined for evacuation, were realizing and implementing the policies of Israel's governments throughout the years."
The pamphlet on the settlements, its authors write, has three goals: to acquaint soldiers with the history of settlement in the territories, from the beginning of the Zionist enterprise, through the 1967 war and up to the present day; to acquaint them with government policy on the settlements; and to make the soldiers "understand that most of the Jewish settlements were established by government decision, and the Jewish settlers realized and implemented this policy through their actions."
Among other details, it notes that the first Jewish settlement in Gaza was established in the 19th century, while the West Bank settlements in the Etzion bloc were first established before the War of Independence (in which they were destroyed).
Nevertheless, the booklet stresses, "in a democratic system of government, the government has the authority to decide to evacuate settlements, either in the framework of a diplomatic agreement or unilaterally."
The booklet also describes how illegal action was used to establish the first post-1967 settlement in the territories: A group of Gush Emunim activists moved illegally to Sebastia, in the West Bank, and the government ordered them to leave. When they refused, the army was ordered to remove them, resulting in clashes between soldiers and settlers.
This incident sparked a fierce public debate - due mainly to the clashes with the army, the booklet states - but was ultimately resolved by the "historic compromise agreement" negotiated by then-defense minister Shimon Peres and approved by then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which allowed the activists to reside at the Kedum army base. Three years later, that became the settlement of Kedumim.