Tensions have flared within Israel as far-right ministers and activists express strong condemnation for an Israeli military drill simulating a kidnapping attack orchestrated by Israeli settlers. The controversial scenario, part of a large-scale exercise in the West Bank, has drawn criticism from various quarters, with some demanding accountability and even dismissals within the military hierarchy.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) defended the drill, stating that the kidnapping scenario was just one of over 100 scenarios practiced and categorized as an “extreme scenario.” However, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir sharply criticized the military officials behind the decision, asserting that those who portrayed settlers as the enemy and Palestinians as victims display “severe moral blindness.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich went a step further, calling for the removal of the individual responsible for the drill. Smotrich argued that someone overseeing such an exercise should not be entrusted with the lives and safety of the settlers, reflecting the gravity with which the drill is being viewed within far-right political circles.
Settler mayors joined the chorus of disapproval, issuing a joint statement that called for the dismissal of the officer who devised the drill. They directed their criticism at IDF Central Command, responsible for overseeing military operations in the West Bank, accusing it of endangering lives and discrediting Judea and Samaria communities.
The mayors’ statement referenced a previous incident in December when several reserve combat soldiers were suspended for reciting psalms in a mosque in Jenin. Drawing a parallel, they argued that if the military could take action in that case, it should similarly address the commander responsible for an exercise deemed damaging to both the reputation and safety of the communities in the region.
As the controversy unfolds, questions arise about the broader implications of such military exercises and the delicate balance required to navigate internal dissent within Israel, particularly in relation to settlements in the West Bank. The incident adds another layer of complexity to the ongoing discussions surrounding the IDF’s role and the portrayal of various factions within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.