Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz instructed Thursday army officers to collect all weapons, settlers received from the army, prior to the implementation of the disengagement plan.
The directive did not specify an exact time or explain how to act if settlers, or groups of them, refuse to hand back weapons. The directive implies that settlers could keep privately owned weapons.
Mofaz instructed army officers to work on reaching an agreement with settler leaders on this matter.
Also, Mofaz approved on Thursday the recommendation that soldiers and police participating in the evacuation enter the settlements unarmed.
Only special army and police units, who will be stationed near the slated for evacuation settlements will be armed, and would only intervene in extreme confrontational cases.
Mofaz’s decision triggered angry reactions from the side of right wing and settlers circles.
Yesha settlers’ Council described worries about settlers using arms against soldiers as ‘superfluous’
‘It’s unthinkable that someone among the settlers will contemplate using arms against the security forces’ a statement issued by the council on Thursday said.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) accused Mofaz with endanger settlers lives.
MK Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party) described Mofaz’s decision as wrong and insensitive.
‘Mofaz should speak with the settlers directly and reach agreements with them. Unilateral decisions of this kind only fan the disengagement flames,’ Orlev said
The weapons collection drive is likely meant to reduce the possibility of conflicts involving live fire erupting during the course of the withdrawal.
Mofaz has earlier said that he believes the extent of violent incidents during the evacuation will not be great, however, he does not rule out the possibility of ‘an extreme scenario’ in which a handful of evacuation opponents open fire.