Military officials responded to the widespread condemnation and said that the rabbi had not understood the implications of his actions or the sensitivity of the matter.
Brigade commander, Col. Yehudah Fox, ordered an investigation be opened into the matter. After a thorough inquiry is concluded, he said, he would decide what disciplinary steps are to be taken against the officer and soldiers who participated in the ceremony.
Mezuzah ceremony in Hebron Casbah (Photo: Chabad website)
Military officials told Ynet that the investigation's initial findings "indicate that the rabbi had unintentionally affixed the mezuzah and that immediately after the incident began to make waves, the offending mezuzah was removed."
'Punish soldiers for provocation'
The "clandestine mission," which took place in one of the most sensitive areas in the West Bank, unleashed a torrent of criticism from Israel's left.
Yariv Oppenheimer, secretary-general of the Peace Now movement, sent a complaint to Maj. Gen. Gadi Shmani, head of Central Command, saying that "the ceremony was not given any legal authorization and the placing of the mezuzah was not only against regulations but also illegal."
Oppenheimer chastised the military for the incident. "Instead of preventing provocation, the soldiers, led by the rabbi, decided to take part in the event and assist the settlers. They acted against military regulations and took part in a political provocation that was unlawfully carried out.
"IDF soldiers are stationed in the city in order to maintain security and not to take part in controversial political acts," Oppenheimer wrote.
Peace Now issued a statement calling for Rabbi Peretz and the soldiers who participated in the ceremony to stand trial.
Knesset members also weighed in on the contentious move. MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that "this is a thuggish act vis-à-vis Palestinians who have not been able to live their lives for years. Even worse than that, this time it was not only done under IDF auspices but by soldiers who were engaging in severe political provocation."
MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) called on Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to convene a discussion on the matter and deal with the perpetrators "to the fullest extent of the law."
"A uniformed rabbi who participates in an act with lawbreakers disgraces the IDF and should be punished," said Vilan.
Amnon Meranda contributed to this report