IDF reticent to participate in Gaza withdrawal

By Aaron Klein

IDF leaders want to employ police instead of soldiers to remove Jewish settlers from their West Bank homes when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan is implemented in 2005, an Israel military source told WorldNetDaily.

“Police are more properly trained in the confrontation of civilian dissenters, like in the breakup of protests,” said the source, “and the police have more legal authority and maneuvering room than the IDF when it comes to domestic issues.”

He said the Israeli army may be used to supervise the evacuation to make sure Palestinians don’t interfere in the withdrawal process, but use of the military, which is generally regarded as a political tool, could heighten an already tense situation.

But some settler leaders have been charging that Sharon, foreseeing violent confrontations with settlers, is secretly assembling a combat unit to carry out the withdrawal, as WorldNetDaily reported exclusively.

Several sources within the settler establishment have charged that Sharon is quietly putting together a special unit of soldiers composed of Arabs and extreme Israeli leftists who are more distanced from the settlement movement and less likely to refrain from using force to remove Jewish residents from Gaza.

Mike Guzofsky, director of the Jewish Legion in the Tapuach settlement and a former Kahane leader, told WND: “There is no doubt the decision to give Jewish land to our most bitter enemies and uproot Jews from their homes and farms and to expel them is a decision which is dividing the nation of Israel. It is therefore understandable that Sharon needs to create a new special unit to implement this dirty work.”

Said another settler leader: “The Shin Bet is looking very carefully into the background of every possible soldier who will be involved with this anti-settler unit, and if there’s anything that hints at sympathy to us, they are not allowed to serve.”

Effi Eitam, chairman of the National Religious Party, recently drafted a bill that would prohibit the IDF from taking part in settler evacuations. The bill, which was defeated in Parliament, argued that “the army should only be used against enemies of the state” and that since “residents of the outposts are not enemies of the state,” it is wrong to employ soldiers to remove them.

Eitam said Israeli police should handle the evacuation.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has said he, too, would prefer that soldiers not take part in evacuations. Mofaz plans to work within the government to press the issue since Eitam’s bill was not passed, a Defense Ministry spokeswoman said.

“Jewish soldiers simply don’t want to kick Jewish civilians out of their homes,” said the military source. “No one wants to do it. I just don’t know where Sharon is going to get the muscle to pull off his Gaza evacuation plan.”

Related story:

Sharon creating anti-settler unit?