Head of IDF central command: My powers are ‘Stalinesque’

In a closed meeting about the use of administrative detention on the hilltop youth, top general says his powers from the “Stalin era” are “not normal.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The head of the IDF’s central command, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, described the powers he has to sign administrative orders expelling “hilltop youth” from Judea and Samaria as being from the time of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Kan News reported Wednesday.

Hilltop Youth is the name given to loosely organized young men who have established outposts outside existing settlements in Judea and Samaria. They are distrustful of Israel’s government and motivated by religious Zionist values.

Yadai spoke at a conference held Tuesday dealing with the subject of the settler hilltop youth. In a recording obtained by Kan, Yadai was heard saying, “The powers I have are in the area of Stalin. This is not a normal country.”

Joseph Stalin’s totalitarian regime ruled the Soviet Union with almost complete control from the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. He is known for his mass repression of any opposition, ethnic cleansing, deportations, hundreds of thousands of executions, and imposing famines that killed millions of his own citizens.

At the conference, Yadai called the death of Ahuvia Sandak, a member of the hilltop youth who died during a police chase in December, “a failure for all of us.”

Yadai said he signs administrative orders expelling hilltop youth from Judea and Samaria every week, and that any such order symbolizes a failure of the system.

The IDF Spokesperson’s office responded to the Kan report, saying in a statement that “the things which were said in a closed meeting of those working on the issue of the hilltop youth are partially presented and taken out of context.”

“The choice of words regarding the metaphor could have been done better, and we apologize for that,” the IDF statement said.

Yadai and other senior officials met last week with hilltop youth at the Maoz Esther outpost, where Sandak was living.

A report last month noted that Yadai held talks with residents and rabbis from the area where the youth are active, talking about using education rather than arrests or expulsion orders.

In the Tuesday recordings, Yadai was heard saying that no one volunteered to take the “hot potato” of the issue of the hilltop youth, adding that the IDF managed to get the youth out from under the responsibility of the army and instead under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies.