A reservist guarding Livni’s vineyard
A reservist guarding Livni’s vineyard near Hebron in 2008. Photo by Archive / Emil Salman
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Reservists in the Israel Defense Forces have been deployed at night to guard the vineyard of a head of the former Jewish underground in the Hebron area, a reserve officer says. This would violate the IDF's policy against guarding private property.

The former militant, Menachem Livni, was convicted in the 1980s for his role in the attack on an Islamic college in which three Palestinian students were killed. He received a life sentence, but president Chaim Herzog pardoned him after seven years.

A reserve engineering officer who can only be identified as 1st Lt. D. says he was ordered to post two soldiers each night to guard the agricultural plot near the Arab village of Bani Naim, east of Hebron, where Livni's vineyard is located. The lieutenant served with his unit in the Hebron area two months ago.

He said he asked his commanders to reconsider because the plot was not inhabited at night and the owner could hire a private security service. First Lt. D. was told the army was guarding the site and was given Livni's telephone number to help coordinate protection of the plot. The reserve officer said that after three weeks, another reserve unit guarded the site.

There have been many cases in which the army has protected agricultural land to head off friction or violence between Arabs and Jews in the West Bank. But in principle, the army does not provide security for private property.

A spokesman for the IDF said the army operates "according to security needs" and has not provided regular security at Livni's vineyard. A senior officer at Central Command told Haaretz that it was a mistake to station soldiers to guard the site at night and that the practice has been stopped.

For his part, Livni said "the site has been attacked hundreds of times by terrorists, and they have tried to wipe me out there at least seven times. The army doesn't provide protection there at night, but only when people are working there. And there has been no change in the security arrangements recently.

"I know that in the past there were reserve officers with leftist views who objected to protecting the place, but in [my] more than 20 years in the reserves, I guarded communities and agricultural areas in the north, in the south and in the [Jordan] Valley. And it never seemed to me to involve something that was not allowed."