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Thursday, March 31, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israeli government foresees armed conflict with West Bank Jews

JERUSALEM — The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has assessed that it could face Jewish gunmen in the West Bank.


Officials said the Defense Ministry has ordered the military to prepare to fight Jewish gunmen who resist the demolition of their homes in the West Bank. They said the military has been training for a range of scenarios in which Jews employ firearms or knives against soldiers and police, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Israel Defense Forces trains for scenarios that may happen," Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said. "It is our duty to prepare soldiers for complex, non-routine situations."

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[On March 30, unidentified armed men, backed by police special forces, raided the Jewish community of Givat Ronen in the northern West Bank. Witnesses said the force fired tear gas and stun grenades in an operation meant to arrest a reserve air force officer.]

Vilnai acknowledged military exercises that included live fire on Jewish residents of the West Bank. Vilnai, a former deputy chief of staff, said the training simulated the use of lethal measures against Jewish civilians deemed threats.

"Soldiers are trained to fire at those firing at them," Vilnai told the Knesset on March 9. "Knives have been pulled out before — and not just once or twice — to be used on car tires. I am not sure it will not go further than tires."

Vilnai did not cite any cases of West Bank Jews firing toward Israeli soldiers or police. In February, Israeli police, backed by the military, fired plastic and rubber bullets toward Jews during a demolition operation in the northern West Bank community of Gilad's Farm.

Military sources said the army was also training to employ live fire toward Jewish resisters. In one simulation, a Jewish resident of the northern West Bank held a knife to a soldier. The exercise ended with the Jew being shot to death.

"Scenarios have an effect on public trends of thought," Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said.

Vilnai said the military exercises against West Bank Jews would continue. Officials said the military and police were training to demolish at least three Jewish communities this year.

"I was trained to, whenever someone threatens me with a weapon, do everything in my power to escape," Vilnai said. "I have been threatened eight or nine times, and the fact is that I am standing here while those who threatened me are not."

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