Three weeks ago and IDF
force belonging to the Binyamin Spatial Brigade arrived in the Palestinian town of Karawat Bani Hasan, located near Ariel in the West Bank.
The village is defined as Area B by the Oslo Accords
– under Israeli security authority and under Palestinian civilian authority. The force's entry created a great deal of attention among local residents.
Karawat Bani Hasan council chief, Abu Amaran, told Ynet that the soldiers stopped at the entrance to an archeological site.
"We have ancient archeological sites in the village. People who saw them (the soldiers) immediately informed me that a military force entered the village and stopped by the archeological site and started taking photos."
Abu Amaran stated that he arrived at the scene, but did not make direct contact with the troops as it was forbidden, so he alerted the Palestinian Coordination and Liaison Administration.
The Palestinian residents did not realize that the IDF force's task was to protect Israeli citizen Ze'ev Erlich (Jabo) who was taking photos of the archeological sites in the Palestinian village, most likely for personal purposes.
Erlich is a researcher of Israel's history who specializes in the Judea and Samaria region. The only organization authorized to operate on archeological matters in the West Bank is the archeology section of the Civil Administration, and Erlich is not employed by the administration. The Antiquities Authority also has no knowledge of him.
Ynet has learned that Erlich often holds lectures for troops and officers in the Binyamin Spatial Brigade, the same brigade that granted him entry and protection to the Palestinian village.
In a similar incident, an IDF force accompanied Erlich when he entered the Palestinian village of Dir Ista, east of Karawat Bani Hasan, last year. Dir Ista is also defined as Area B and also has archeological sites.
According to the Oslo Accords, archeological sites in Area B are under Palestinian authority. The agreement stated that "responsibility for the field of archelogy in the West Bank will be transferred from the military rule and Civil Administration to the Palestinian side.
"This includes protection of the archeological sites and their preservation, management, supervision, licensing and all other archeological activities. The Palestinian side will respect academic freedom and rights on this matter."
The agreement emphasized that the Palestinian side would ensure free access to the sites without bias. Thus, Erlich could, like any Israeli citizen, enter the sites legally for his personal needs. There is no obligation to receive military escort.
said in response that "The IDF's conduct is outrageous, against all regular procedures and needlessly endangers soldiers lives. Once again a small number of extremist settlers manages to drag the IDF into political tasks and are awarded with an escort for every settler's whims.
"GOC Central Command General Nitzan Alon must put a stop to the disgraceful phenomenon of using the IDF for personal and ideological needs immediately."
The IDF Spokesman said in response: "Indeed there are cases where the IDF accompanied archeologist and researcher Ze'ev Erlich. In general the IDF routinely receives requests for a security escort for trips and jobs in the West Bank.
"Each request is examined in view of the current status while maintaining the security forces assignments." The IDF did not comment on the matter of the lectures, Erlich himself refused to comment.