Settlement Security Coordinator Blocks Road to Palestinian Villages, Gets Off With Rebuke

Despite finding the man guilty of operating outside his authorized territory and committing a criminal offense, Israeli army hasn't removed him from position.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The security coordinator for the West Bank settlement of Avigail who is responsible for the placement of a roadblock preventing access to the adjacent Palestinian villages will remain in his position.

A Haaretz investigation found that Ahikam Halleli, the security coordinator for that area, who was responsible for initiating and implementing the incident, got off with a mere rebuke by the Israel Defense Forces commander in Hebron, Major-General Avi Bluth.

On August 18, several settler youths from the outposts Mitzpe Yair and Avigail built a roadblock on the dirt road leading to four Palestinian villages – Jinba, Bir el-Eid, Markaz and Hallawa – all located in Firing Zone 918.

Human rights organizations summoned the army, who arrived to the area, spoke with the youth and cleared the rocks. Upon leaving, the settler youth once again blocked the road until nighttime. Israeli soldiers and police returned and once again re-opened the road. Palestinian residents also complained of a stench coming from a water cistern nearby, likely due to an dead animal left there by the youth.

Residents of Avigail say that Halleli did it to avenge the theft of a car from the Mitzpe Yair outpost a few days earlier.

"He emailed all the residents," a settler living in the area said, "writing that there were several car thefts committed recently, including the day before. Residents were requested to arrive the next day at 6:30 in the morning to help block the road. Ahikam qualified the activity as 'important.'"

Local settlement councils employ security coordinators, paying their salaries. The army is responsible for vetting each one, and is also his exclusive acting supervisor. Settlement security coordinators are subject to military disciplinary law and IDF investigations and army commanders sign off on maps delineating the territories within which they can act.

In this case, Halleli was operating outside his authorized territory, in addition to committing a criminal offense.

Following Haaretz's request for a response, Major-General Bluth summoned Halleli for an investigation. Halleli admitted he initiated the roadblock, but Bluth decided to make due with a reproach and keep him in his position.

Halleli has in the past been involved in transferring material for illegal settlement construction. In that case as well, as a result of a Haaretz inquiry, he was called in for an investigation and merely rebuked. He claimed he did not know the materials were being used for illegal construction, and promised it would not happen again.

Halleli refused to comment on this case. The IDF Spokesperson said in a response that a thorough investigation was conducted following the incident, including a conversation between the army commander and the said security coordinator.

"During the conversation it was made clear beyond any doubt that this behavior is not in line with the IDF's values, and constitutes an impaired decision, as a result of which proper procedure was restated. This was an isolated incident that does not reflect general behavior, as the IDF consistently examines its civilian security officials."

Avigail settlement security coordinatorCredit: Ta'ayush
Settlers build roadblock in southern West BankCredit: Screenshot, AtTuwaniProject

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