End of ‘Intel Mapping’ Is a Start for IDF

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Soldiers on an 'intelligence mapping' mission near Nablus, last year.

The Israel Defense Forces decided to end its nighttime “home mapping” practice in the West Bank. Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, the chief of Central Command, ordered his forces to halt their nighttime raids on Palestinian homes to gather intelligence, after the military claimed it has developed “more advanced operative and technological tools” for this purpose.

But the endless intelligence the defense agencies collect on all the Palestinian residents of the territories was not the only goal of those invasions. They were also a means to demonstrate the army’s control and power over the occupied civilian population and to drill soldiers and keep them alert.

These are invasive, frightening and violent raids that were conducted nightly for years. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, in 2017-18 the army carried out about 265 raids each month, using verbal or physical violence in a significant number of them. But the primary violence lies in the very act of raiding the homes of innocent people as they slept, in the middle of the night. Large numbers of armed soldiers in full protective gear, sometimes with dogs, forcibly broke into people’s homes, undermining the fundamental confidence that everyone must have in the security of the place they call home.

The mental scars those raids left on men and women, children and old people are deep and unnecessary. They also mentally scarred some soldiers, as the testimonies they have given over the years to Breaking the Silence have shown.

The IDF decided to end this practice in the wake of a petition filed to the High Court of Justice by Yesh Din and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel as well as by lawyer Michael Sfard on behalf of six Palestinians. It’s good the army recognized it could not defend this draconian practice in court, and regrettable this understanding was reached only after the petition was submitted.

Perhaps now the army will be wise enough to change its behavior in the territories and end a few other practices, including mass arrests, most of which are political, the arrest of children and the roadblocks – which are also mainly intended to demonstrate control and power over a civilian population. Nothing good comes to anyone from those measures.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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