Col. Yossi Pinto was the guest of honor on Wednesday at the tenth anniversary celebration of the illegal outpost of Kida in the West Bank, an area where Pinto, as the Israel Defense Forces' Binyamin regional brigade commander, is responsible for upholding the rule of law.
- Israel losing millions to settlers who don't pay land leasing fees, state comptroller finds
- Planning and construction in West Bank is a free-for-all, state comptroller finds
- The organization behind illegal West Bank outpost construction
Kida was founded in 2003 by Amana, an arm of the Yesha Council that constructs illegal outposts across the West Bank. This particular outpost is located on state land allocated to the World Zionist Organization and on private Palestinian land. A plan submitted in 2004 to legalize construction at the settlement was rejected. Kida is also one of the 26 outposts former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government committed to evacuate after 2001. In 2009, however, eight reserve officers who live in the settlement threatened they would refuse to serve in the reserves if it was demolished. In the meanwhile a new government has come to power and Kida is 10-years old.
Among the guests of the anniversary event were a number of politicians and celebrities. The settlement produced a PR video which it screened for the honored guests. Pinto sat in the front row and the settlement bestowed on him an award for efforts to protect its security.
Pinto was present for the entire event, and did not leave when the event turned political. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) appeared on stage and read a poem about the settlement and praising the residents as "the answer to the voices from outside such as the decision by European countries to boycott."
"They are trying to tell us this is not our home, this is not our land," said Bennett. "If this is not our home then I am homeless. And the answer to all sorts of boycotts is the wonderful people here. I know that only in the last two weeks there were three circumcisions here, so our answer to the European Commission is another circumcision, another birth, and another tree planted, another house and another community," said Bennett.
Only a day ago, on Wednesday, the State Comptroller submitted a report on construction in the Palestinian territories criticizing the IDF's lack of enforcement of planning and construction laws in West Bank. Israel is losing millions of shekels to settlers who don't pay land leasing fees, according to the report.
In a statement an IDF spokesperson said "the participation of the brigade commander was in line with his continuous contact with the population found [in his area of jurisdiction]."
"The IDF is obligated to protect all residents of Judea and Samaria regardless of the legal status of the place they live," the statement continued.
According to a statement from the settlement of Kida "it is natural for the commander in the area whose soldiers exercise with the settlement's preparedness to join in our celebration. The role of the IDF is to protect the citizens of the state and also because of that the brigade commander and his soldiers were present at the event."