IDF and the Settlers
"'I don't want to exaggerate, but it's time to call this what it is,' a veteran IDF officer noted in a recent telephone conversation on the Nablus incident. 'It might be news in America, but it's no secret in Israel. This is a very real crisis. What we have here is the birth of a state within a state. The birth of a kind of Jewish Hezbollah.' This former officer went on to speculate that 'what is emerging in the West Bank' is 'a three-state solution: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and, standing between them, a radical settler state.' Yehuda Shaul, an organizer of Breaking The Silence -- a group of IDF soldiers committed to publicizing the reality of being an Israeli soldier in the West Bank -- is unwilling to go that far, though he confirms that the series of escalations between settlers and the IDF has roiled the Israeli military. 'The IDF is in the West Bank to control tens of thousands of Palestinians,' he notes, 'but they're having the most trouble controlling the settlers. It's quite an irony.'"
The anonymous IDF officer quoted above is referring to the fact that Hizbullah effectively runs Shi'ite areas of the country that were long marginalized by the Maronite-dominated government, and that its loyalty to that agenda supersedes any loyalty it has to Lebanon as a whole. Those settlers who are part of the religious Zionist movement believe that God wants Jews to settle the entire "Land of Israel" between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, a divine commandment which they place above the policies of the Israeli government which seeks to control and direct settlement based on its own agendas. This is not new, as there was violent opposition to the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza. I also remember that in 2007, when I visited Hebron along with but not participating with Jewish anti-settler protestors, the IDF routed the bus caravan through Palestinian neighborhoods because of the fear of violence from the Jewish ones. Radical settler attempts to harass and intimidate the IDF have clearly increased over the past year, mostly over the IDF's attempts to suppress settler violence against the Palestinians.
Perry also reports on problems faced by the IDF as an organization, such as this video of an occupation patrol dancing in a Hebron street. My take on such matters is this: Sympathetic visitors to Israel often comment that Israelis, because of their mandatory military service, have to display maturity much earlier than teenagers in the United States. It doesn't take much time in the West Bank, however, to see that not all of them muster that maturity, adding insult to the injuries associated with the military occupation.