IDF unit spends weekend as guests at illegal West Bank outpost – report

Reservist troops invited to Einot Kedem in Jordan Valley; IDF says looking into matter, said to be common occurrence at contested site; MKs slam situation: ‘Moral bankruptcy’

Screen capture from video of the Einot Kedem (Omer's Farm) illegal outpost in the Jordan Valley, 2020. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of the Einot Kedem (Omer's Farm) illegal outpost in the Jordan Valley, 2020. (YouTube)

Soldiers from an elite reservist infantry unit in the Israel Defense Forces were guests of an illegal outpost over the weekend, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday.

The combat mobility unit was engaged in two weeks of exercises in the south of the country and was invited to spend time at Einot Kedem, also known as Havat Omer (Omer’s Farm), in the Jordan Valley, the report said. It is located alongside the Yitav settlement.

The farm was established in 2004 by Omer Atidiah, a reserve officer in the same unit, and he invited the soldiers to spend the weekend there.

According to the report, IDF soldiers and commanders are regular guests at Havat Omer during exercises.

Yesh Atid MK Ram Ben Barak, who chairs the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Kan the troops’ presence at the outpost was unacceptable.

“It begins with the state turning a blind eye to illegal things,” he said. “It would be appropriate if the army were not present in a place that is illegal and not formally authorized by the state.”

MK Mossi Raz, of the left-wing Meretz party tweeted that the incident showed “moral bankruptcy.”

Raz called on Defense Minister Benny Gantz to immediately investigate the matter.

The IDF said in response that it was looking into the report.

Ram Ben-Barak leads a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, July 5, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel considers any outposts set up without approval from state authorities to be illegal.

Haaretz reported last year that the Defense Ministry had told the Civil Administration to prepare a plan for legalizing the Einot Kedem outpost.

The state informed the High Court of Justice of the move in response to a petition demanding that a demolition order against the outpost be carried out.

The Kan report came after last week thousands of pro-settlement activists tried to establish a number of illegal outposts across the West Bank. After scuffles with security forces, all of the outposts were eventually removed.

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