IDF Commander in West Bank: Attacks Do Not Affect Me

Defense minister calls on police to end vilification.

The commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, who has come under fire from the extreme right lately, insisted in recent days that the attacks do not influence him.

"I will continue to carry out my tasks, and implement orders given by the government, and relayed to the IDF, in the territories," Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon told Israel Defense Forces soldiers. "My faith in the justice of my actions has not been harmed. One doesn't need to wear a skull-cap to believe in the justice of what one does."

alon - Tal Cohen - July 6 2011
Tal Cohen

Over the past few weeks settlers have set fire to Alon's car near the Yitzhar and picketed outside his home in Nir Banim, decrying what they say are the commander's politicized attacks on them.

Yesterday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak criticized the attacks leveled against Alon. He termed them "a scandal carried out by a small minority."

These attacks, Barak added, "disgrace persons in this minority faction, and those who send them to articulate the attacks."

Barak called on the police and the attorney general to bring a halt to the attacks. "Nitzan Alon is the person who does more than anyone else to defend Israelis' way of life in Judea and Samaria. He is a top caliber officer, and the state of Israel owes him much," the defense minister said.

Settler leadership has remained reticent in public about the denunciation campaign waged against Alon. While IDF officers say they have received dozens of phone calls from rabbis and settlers expressing regret about the attacks, few leaders have come out in the media against the campaign.

West Bank rabbinical committees have expressed support for the attacks on Alon, though they use language more temperate than the denunciations voiced by protesters who gathered near the IDF officer's home.

Alon believes that some of the incidents involving attacks against him have been inflated out of proportion. On Monday night, when he passed by the Tapuah Junction in Samaria, a few youths cried out insults.

Within moments, members of the extreme right disseminated text messages to journalists, suggesting that the officer "was attacked and had fled."

In another incident, about 10 protesters gathered near Alon's home, but police did not allow them to stage a demonstration and removed them.

Such incidents, Alon says, are small scale.

Right-wing activists are also furious about a document to which Alon affixed his name, ordering officers to not brief some soldiers about illegal outpost demolitions, out of fear they may be ideologically connected to the outposts. IDF officers clarify that this order pertains to the right-wing "hard core."

Alon's wife has also been denounced by settlers as a "leftist activist." Yet Alon indicated that the campaign's impact on his family has been minimal.

The commander says he is satisfied with the backing he has received from officials in the security establishment.

IDF officers verify that there has been in recent weeks a rise in tensions in the West Bank, particularly in connection to the illegal outposts.

IDF analyses indicate that in the past six months there has been a 100 percent rise in what is defined as "disturbances of the peace" perpetrated by Jews.