Major General Herzi Halevi, Commanding Officer of the IDF Southern Command speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
The Israeli government officially confirmed a settler, Major General Herzi Halevi, as the 23rd military chief of staff of Israel’s Defense Forces on 24 October.
Halevi, former head of Military Intelligence and the Southern Command, and current deputy chief of the IDF general staff will begin his three-year term on 17 January.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz proposed Halevi’s appointment in early September, citing the IDF’s need for stability, according to the Israeli portal Ynet.
The move is considered unorthodox ahead of Israel’s November elections, as caretaker governments have traditionally avoided approving senior posts.
Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers called for the caretaker government to be prevented from making any high-level appointments until the formation of a new government.
“It isn’t surprising that we’ve come to a point where the chief of staff is a settler too,” Shabtay Bendet of the anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now, told The Associated Press.
Over the past week, over 100 acts of violence inspired by ‘nationalistic’ motives were committed by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, undeterred by the Israeli army, and on some occasions even under its protection.
The situation continues to escalate, with violence becoming more widespread, and unprecedented in the last 16 years. The army and Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security apparatus, have turned a blind eye, fearing the repercussions of interfering.
Several far-right Jewish settlers stormed the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on 10 October and proceeded to tear copies of the Quran, as well as burn them.
The director of the Hebron Endowment, Nidal al-Jabari, said in a press statement that “settlers tore and burned a number of Qurans, and threw them in the garbage near the Qayton Mosque … in the center of Hebron.”
Palestinian Minister of Endowments and Religious Affairs, Hatem al-Bakri, said in a statement on 30 September that Israeli troops and extremist settlers have stormed and attacked 15 mosques since the start of the year.
According to Aljazeera, “Israeli settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank number at least 600,000, and include those who serve in the highest ranks of the Israeli government as well as in the army and the military judicial system enforced on Palestinians”.