Comments by outgoing Samaria Brigade Commander Yuval Bazak, according to which the IDF should not have befriended settlers, have provoked a storm of response from both the Israeli left and right.
Commander: We shouldn't have befriended settlers / Efrat Weiss
Outgoing Samaria Brigade Commander Colonel Yuval Bazak tells Ynet about his feelings toward settlers, war in Lebanon, war on terror. 'Hizbullah did its best to kidnap and we acted as if there was someone we signed an agreement with beyond the fence,' he says
Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer, responding to the interview, told Ynet: "I hope the comments will set off a red light at the defense minister's bureau, and that a change of policy results."
During the interview, Bazak said: "The relationship was not proper between the army and the settlers. There were too many friendships. Many times the army, in the name of friendship, did not realize its responsibility, such as in the case of illegal outposts. Too many times we turned a blind eye. It was inconvenient to deal with things related to law and order."
"Bazak's remarks match the evidences seen by us on the ground," said the Yesh Din organization, which says it monitors human rights violations by settlers.
Right wing activist Itamar Ben Gvir said: "What's the surprise that the IDF lost in Lebanon? With commanders like these, who for them the enemies are the settlers, and the hilltop youths are the danger in their eyes, there's no surprise that in the real battle, against the real enemy, we lose. Bazak – they are waiting for you at Peace Now."
Yesha Chairman and Samaria Council Head Bentzi Lieberman said that "Bazak is a professional officer with good results and abilities, but he did not learn and internalize the lessons of the expulsion."
"It's a shame that a senior and skilled officer doesn't differentiate between security, the role of the IDF, and police, whose job it is to deal disorder," he added.