gantz - Yaron Kaminsky - February 15 2011
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz. Photo by Yaron Kaminsky
Text size

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visited the Jordan Valley base of the urban combat infantry unit Kfir Brigade unannounced early on Tuesday morning.

A team of army investigators arrived with Gantz at 5:30 A.M. in order to evaluate the training regime, officers' activities and soldiers' morale at the other four affiliated army bases of the Golani, Givati, Nahal and Paratroopers Brigades.

Lt. Gen. Gantz met with the Kfir Base Commander Amit Yamin, who had no idea of the Chief' of Staff's intentions to visit the base. After his survey of the Kfir base, Gantz will continue on to the Paratroopers base, joining the investigators already on site.

Kfir Brigade soldiers opened fire on Palestinian villagers during clashes near the West Bank city of Nablus on Monday, an initial army investigation found. Nine Palestinians were wounded in the clashes, seven of them from gunfire, according to hospital officials in Nablus.

The IDF is probing whether the soldiers used live fire as a last resort, as the soldiers claim, or whether they could have dispersed the demonstrations in other ways.

The Palestinians claim that the confrontation began when a group of 20 settlers marched onto land near the village of Qusra and began cutting down olive trees. Resident Eqab Hassan said locals began throwing rocks at the settlers, who responded by opening fire themselves.

The settlers say that the clashes began when a group of Palestinians armed with knives accosted them at the Eli Ayin outpost near the settlement of Shiloh, with the purpose of grabbing the agricultural land they had been tending.