IDF Keeps Raids of West Bank Outposts Under Wraps Fearing Leaks to Settlers

Evacuations are to be carried out by troops brought in from outside; only the commander will be informed of operation in advance.

The military establishment has recently begun excluding soldiers and officers who serve in the West Bank from operations to evacuate unauthorized Jewish outposts there.

Evacuations are carried out by troops brought in from outside, and only the sector commander will be informed in advance of the operation.

Migron evacuation - Emil Salman - September 2011
Emil Salman

The main purpose is to prevent the recurrence of incidents in which plans were leaked to settlers, who then called in hundreds of protesters to block the evacuating forces, sometimes violently.

There have also been several incidences of soldiers stationed in the West Bank who have refused to provide security for evacuations.

The new arrangements come in the wake of increasingly tense relations between the Israel Defense Forces and some West Bank settlers. Tensions erupted most recently Wednesday night near Shiloh when a group of settlers blocked passage of an army vehicle and assaulted soldiers.

The protocols are, in effect, an extension of the policy introduced a few months ago by Brig. Gen Nitzan Alon, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, when he ordered that soldiers living in West Bank settlements not be informed of plans to evacuate unauthorized outposts.

It has been several years since IDF soldiers carried out evictions themselves. Instead they are done mainly by Israel Police officers and members of the Border Police.

IDF units deployed in the area do, however, provide peripheral security for the operations, including blocking area roads. Recent evacuations that were scheduled in advance used Border Police and Israel Police forces brought in from outside the region rather than units stationed in the West Bank.

While the brigade commander is informed about an upcoming evacuation of an outpost days or even weeks or months in advance, the subordinate officers whose units provide security for the missions are informed only shortly before deployment.

According to high-ranking officers in the Central Command, in addition to preventing leaks, this practice is also aimed at protecting officers in the field, who are in regular contact with settlers and may themselves live in settlements, from being subject to pressure.

A number of unauthorized outposts are slated for evacuation after the October holiday period.