Settler activist: ‘We are preparing a series of surprises’ for the army
ight-wing activists began preparing on Sunday for a fight against the planned demolition of structures built in contravention of the 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements.
The demolition plans were described in an internal Israel Defense Forces memo detailing the intelligence-gathering methods to be used to detect freeze violations. The memo was leaked to the press on Sunday.
One of the issues that most concerns right-wing activists is the IDF’s plan to jam cell-phone signals, so as to prevent settlers from telling other protesters where to demonstrate against implementation of the freeze. Activists have begun consulting with experts on how to overcome the signal jamming.
The memo shows the IDF is focusing on how to deal with problems it has faced in the past, a right-wing activist said on Sunday.
“The army is preparing for yesterday’s war, but we won’t fight it on its turf,” he said. “We are preparing a series of surprises and events that it won’t be prepared for.”
He cited the recent torching of a mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf as an example of an incident the army was not prepared for. No suspects have been arrested in the arson.
Members of the Yesha Council of settlements met Sunday to plan its response to the army’s plans, and said the IDF has lost all restraint.
Municipal council heads in the West Bank will meet Monday afternoon to discuss how to protest the freeze. They are considering a hunger strike, and will also discuss whether to conduct a smear campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said Netanyahu’s “warlike” moratorium on building would cause civil revolt in the settlements and prompt soldiers to hold a slowdown strike.
“We cannot urge the people’s army to attack part of the people,” he said.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) submitted a private member’s bill on Sunday aimed at compensating settlers damaged by the freeze. The bill calls for the establishment of a six-member claims committee in the Prime Minister’s Office that would be responsible for determining the eligibility of settlers requesting compensation, and the sum to be paid out.
It would also provide assistance and consultation on all aspects of the freeze, including mental health costs and welfare assistance for up to two years after the freeze ends.
“We must not repeat the failure in [the government’s] treatment of the disengagement evacuees,” said Danon. “The state authorities should not just be implementing the order, but also dealing with its destructive ramifications for the residents. The bill will make sure the freeze doesn’t destroy entire families or cause huge losses to families who put their money into building their homes.”
If the law passes, homeowners will be able to file claims, as will municipal authorities in the West Bank, which will be able to request compensation for loss of income from taxes and fees. Those who have purchased lots but haven’t started construction would be eligible for limited compensation, while those who have already begun construction but have have yet to begin laying the foundations will be eligible for bigger payments. The bill also provides for those who have completed construction on their homes but can’t live in them because of the freeze on infrastructure construction.
Meanwhile, senior officers in the IDF Central Command, including GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi, contacted settler leaders on Sunday in an attempt at reconciliation.