Shin Bet chief said to warn of far-right threats to top general in West Bank

Document sent to PM, president, and cabinet ministers warns that Central Command head Yehuda Fox’s life could be in danger from handful of extremist settlers

Head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, during a TV interview on February 28, 2023. (Screenshot: Channel 12; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Head of the IDF Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, during a TV interview on February 28, 2023. (Screenshot: Channel 12; Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar has reportedly warned that the military’s top commander in the West Bank could be at risk due to threats from far-right activists.

According to Channel 12 news, Bar sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and all government ministers saying that sharp criticism against Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox “may create a concrete threat to the general’s life and allow him to be harmed.”

“This is led by a small number of people, but who are extremist and Kahanist,” Bar was quoted as writing, referring to followers of the late far-right leader Rabbi Meir Kahane.

Bar attributed the intensified criticism of Fox to steps he has taken since the Hamas atrocities in southern Israel on October 7 sparked the war in the Gaza Strip, such as the enforcement of administrative orders that see extremist settlers jailed without charge, and the collection of guns that had been distributed to communal security squads without oversight.

“The steps that the Central Command chief has led have caused a real escalation in the criticism against him, which is presented as him having Jewish blood on his hands, to the point of deciding on a din rodef against him,” Bar reportedly added, referring to a Jewish religious principle allowing the extrajudicial killing of individuals who pose a danger to others. A similar decree was allegedly issued regarding former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in the months before his assassination by a Jewish extremist in 1995.

On Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi called out the animosity against Fox during a press briefing, saying that “any persecution or defamation of him is grave and must be condemned clearly and from every quarter.”

And on Wednesday, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid denounced the threats against Fox, calling him “a brave warrior, patriot, defender of Israel.” He added, “The threats against his life are another disgraceful low of a messianic, violent and delusional group, which endangers Israel’s security while the IDF is fighting for our lives.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi gives a statement to the media at an army base in southern Israel, December 26, 2023. (Flash90)

It was Bar’s document that led both Netanyahu and Herzog recently to make public statements of support for Fox and denunciation of those who are hounding him, the Channel 12 report said.

Last week, Herzog met with soldiers serving in the Hebron Hills region of the southern West Bank and condemned “a vocal minority group” who are damaging the reputation of the broader settlement movement, according to a statement from the IDF and his office.

“It is important to me on this occasion to strengthen Central Command head Yehuda Fox, who is going through difficult days of blatant, insolent, and ugly personal attacks,” Herzog told the soldiers. “There is a vocal minority group that is causing terrible damage to the settlement movement and the IDF and it is extremely important that we stand up to them and make it clear to them that enough is enough.”

At last Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told ministers he had heard about the din rodef proclamation against Fox, condemned it, and that he had ordered that the matter be investigated.

The right-wing Israel National News outlet, which backs the settler movement, reported at the time that a small number of “Wanted” posters about Fox had been put up across the West Bank by a group calling itself the “Freedom Fighters of Israel.”

The posters declared that Fox was wanted for “abandoning” the [Jewish] residents of the West Bank, “the murder of 1,400 Jews in the south of our holy country, and abuse of Jews by handing out administrative detention orders.” They further said that as a result, din rodef applied to Fox.

Administrative detention allows a suspect to be held in detention for renewable periods of up to six months, on the basis of secret evidence made available only to a military judge.

There are two Jewish Israelis who are known to have been put into administrative detention since October 7 when Palestinian terror group Hamas carried out a devastating attack on Israel that killed over 1,200 people. Thousands of terrorists who burst into the country from Gaza also abducted at least 240 people. Israel has responded to the attacks with a military operation in the Gaza Strip aimed at destroying Hamas, removing it from power in the Palestinian enclave, and freeing the hostages.

Last month Channel 12 reported that Fox was given close security protection due to the extremist right-wing campaign against him.

Since the start of the war, there has also been an uptick in violent attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, which has been noted by human rights groups in Israel and abroad.

Israel has come under increasing pressure from its allies to rein in settler violence, which has soared since the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre. Last week France joined the US and Britain in sanctioning Jewish extremist settlers.

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