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Top defense officials slam settler ‘incitement’ against Central Command chief

Campaign castigates Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs for blocking settlers from reaching illegal West Bank outpost Homesh, while purportedly not acting against Palestinian rock attacks

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

Posters criticizing Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the army's Central Command. The slogan reads: 'Tough against Jews in Homesh; weak in Hawara' (Social media)
Posters criticizing Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, commander of the army's Central Command. The slogan reads: 'Tough against Jews in Homesh; weak in Hawara' (Social media)

Top defense officials have slammed what they branded as “incitement” against the chief of the military’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, after settler activists put out posters on social media criticizing him.

The images, which included a picture of Fuchs, read: “Tough against Jews in Homesh — weak in Hawara,” criticizing the general for allegedly preventing settlers from reaching an illegal outpost while ostensibly not acting against recent stone-throwing attacks on a highway that traverses a Palestinian town.

“Yehuda Fuchs, you have failed, take responsibility,” the poster read.

Military chief Aviv Kohavi said Tuesday night he “strongly condemns” the banners that denounced Fuchs, who oversees the military in the West Bank.

“This is an improper and unprincipled action that targets a professional, lawful, and virtuous public servant,” the statement read. The Israel Defense Forces branded the posters “inciteful discourse.”

“IDF officers operate in an official capacity, and should not be dragged into political or personal discourse in any way,” the statement added.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, left, meets with Col. Fares Atila, head of the Civil Administration, center, and head of the IDF Central Command Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, right, along the West Bank security barrier, April 13, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

In a rare occurrence, the Shin Bet security service issued a similar statement on the matter.

“Maj. Gen. Fuchs is a commander and fighter who fights terror, night after night, back to back with service personnel. The lives of many Israelis have been saved thanks to the operations and actions he commanded,” the Shin Bet said.

“Security forces operate with professionalism, integrity, in a dignified manner, out of a deep sense of service [to the state], and we must condemn the extremists who are working to create cracks in these values,” it added.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Wednesday also came to the defense of Fuchs.

“As the head of the defense establishment, I reiterate that he and all IDF soldiers have full support to carry out their missions for the security of Israeli citizens. The attempt to attribute political motives to him or [other] IDF commanders is outrageous and unacceptable,” Gantz said on Twitter.

“I call on everyone to keep the IDF out of the political debate,” he added.

Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot also addressed the issue during a conference Wednesday, saying there were “jarring voices of incitement” against defense officials. “Unfortunately, there is silence in the previous and current leadership around the issue,” he said.

In April, far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir unleashed a barrage of criticism at the Shin Bet, accusing its leader Ronen Bar of spending time on restricting Ben Gvir’s movement rather than fighting terror, after the agency recommended barring him from leading a nationalist march through Jerusalem’s Old City.

Heads of the IDF’s Central Command have repeatedly come under fire by some settler groups over the years for what they felt was insufficient action against security threats or egregious action against illegal settlements.

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