Far-right ministers slam IDF for holding drill simulating settlers kidnapping Palestinians

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: Israeli troops take part in a drill in northern Israel, May 13, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)
Illustrative: Israeli troops take part in a drill in northern Israel, May 13, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov/AP)

Far-right ministers and activists deplore the Israeli military for carrying out a drill simulating a kidnapping attack carried out by Israeli settlers.

The IDF says that the kidnapping scenario, part of a large-scale exercise in the West Bank, was just one of more than 100 scenarios that were drilled, and is among the “extreme scenarios.”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says the military officials who gave the order to “portray the settlers as the enemy and the Palestinians as the victim, have a severe moral blindness” and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says “whoever is responsible for it cannot continue in his role and be entrusted with looking after the lives and safety of the settlers.”

Other activists and far-right media commentators describe the scenario as “unrealistic,” despite such acts by Jewish extremists occurring in the past, most notably the kidnapping and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir in 2014.

Footage from the drill, which simulated settlers abducting a Palestinian in response to a terror attack, showed that several soldiers were wearing vests marking them as the “enemy force,” a common practice in military exercises.

The IDF apologizes for marking the soldiers pretending to be settlers in the drill as the opposing force.

“The IDF did not drill scenarios that simulate settlers as an enemy, and the marking of the vests in question, whose purpose is to separate those training, is part of the exercise’s safety routine,” the IDF says in a statement.

“In the present case, it was a mistake to mark them with such an inscription and we apologize for that,” the IDF adds.

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