Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff
The Jerusalem Post
April 15, 2010 - 12:00am

The IDF Central Command has prepared a special crash course for soldiers in the Judea and Samaria Division amid concern about a possible escalation in settler violence should the government extend the moratorium on new settlement construction in the West Bank beyond the end of September, senior officers have told The Jerusalem Post.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened top cabinet ministers earlier this week to discuss the US’s demands to extend the freeze, which were presented during his visit to the White House in March.

In addition to extending the freeze on new settlement construction – initially approved for 10 months at the end of November – the Americans are also asking the government stop construction in east Jerusalem and to transfer security control of certain parts of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.

As a result, the Judea and Samaria Division decided recently that all military units deployed in the West Bank will undergo a crash course in dealing with Jewish demonstrations and settler violence.

As part of the course, soldiers will watch movies from past incidents and will hold discussions to determine potential flash points and learn how to neutralize them. The course will also include live simulations during which commanders and soldiers will learn how to confront and disperse Jewish demonstrations in the West Bank.

The Central Command has appointed an officer to oversee the course and formulate the contents based on each sub-region within the West Bank.

“Each area has its own flash points and reasons for tension,” one defense official explained. “The idea is to prevent unnecessary violence and teach soldiers and security forces how to deal with demonstrations.”

Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, told the Post that he met Wednesday with OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi and Judea and Samaria Division commander Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon.

They did not speak to him of any anticipated violence, he said.

Since the start of the moratorium, the council has insisted that settlers refrain from violence. It has advocated civil disobedience, political lobbying and protest rallies as the preferred method to battle the freeze. The council has been proud of the fact that most of the protests against the freeze have held to these guidelines.

Should the freeze be extended, “We would use the tools available to use as members of a democratic society,” Dayan said.

But he added that he did not believe Netanyahu had a political majority that would allow him to extend the freeze.

Not everyone shares his view that the moratorium is temporary.

Efrat Local Council Chairman Oded Revivi said he thought Netanyahu had no choice but to extend the freeze.

“I do not see how he can get out of it,” he said.

Early Wednesday, masked men entered the town of Hawara, south of Nablus, and spray-painted a Star of David and the word Muhammad – in Hebrew – on the wall of a mosque.

The Palestinians filed a complaint with the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria, which together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Israel Police and the IDF opened an investigation.

Alon called the incident “unnecessary and wrong.”

Civil administration representatives spoke with Palestinian leaders in Hawara and in the PA to ease tensions and asked that they work to prevent retaliatory attacks.

The graffiti was erased by civil administration workers and local Palestinians.


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