Using Israel Defense Forces soldiers to enforce law among the Jewish population in the territories, especially during the evacuation of illegal outposts, might lead soldiers and even commanders to refuse orders, the commander of the Judea and Samaria division, Brig. Gen. Noam Tibon wrote three months ago in a memo.
The memo, distributed to commanders of units operating in the West Bank, states every unit might have a “bottom third of soldiers and commanders with difficulties,” who would require “individual follow-up and conversations.”
The memo calls on battalion and company commanders to draw “clear red lines” regarding refusing orders. Until orders are refused, commanders should treat soldiers with sensitivity, but once an order is refused, unambiguous action should be taken, the memo states.
It instructs commanders to postpone setting a date for a court-martial, so that it won’t become “an opportunity for a media provocation.”
The document also suggests commanders not assign soldiers connected to outpost residents to evacuations, calling for “a sensitive policy toward commanders or soldiers with family or social relationships in the evacuated population.”
Commanders are urged to specifically define their troops’ duties and the parameters for success, and to suppress “over-enthusiasm.” Any friction with settlers should be “diverted to the level of officers rather than soldiers,” the document states.
Evacuating outposts and confronting left-wing and right-wing demonstrators are described as the implementation of “cabinet decisions that are in the public discourse,” as opposed to “pure security issues.”
The IDF is concerned that such tasks, “which are not combat tasks,” might spur “manifestations of refusal by individuals or frameworks.” The size of these “frameworks” was not specified.
Only part of the document, intended to prepare units for their tasks in the region, addresses friction with settlers.
It mostly involves fighting terror and soldiers’ treatment of the Palestinian population.
Commanders should take action against violence or humiliation toward Palestinians, it states.
Such events “come to the attention of commanders through a variety of channels: international organizations, the media, and the Shin Bet security service, but usually not through reports by soldiers in the unit, because of the conspiracy of silence created around non-normative behavior in the field.”