Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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20 Tammuz 5765 - July 27, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Police and Soldiers Train at "Chicago" in the Desert

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Thousands of soldiers and policemen began intensive training on Monday at the Tze'elim army base for the pullout from the Gaza Strip. The army constructed a mock settlement there, known as "Chicago," that was adapted from what was once a mock Palestinian village used to train anti-terror forces.

The division with principal responsibility for the army's task in the pullout began exercises at Tze'elim and at the Joulis base in the south. Another division has also begun pullout exercises at the command level. The IDF also rented a school building in Ofakim where the forces will study the theoretical aspects of the Disengagement.

In the mock settlement the trainees will enact various scenarios that could arise during the evacuation. Soldiers and police will play the parts of settlers and of the forces evacuating them.

"We are beginning our major training exercise, . . . [in] a process that we're not used to and that is difficult," OC Ground Forces Services Maj.-Gen. Yiftach Ron-Tal said on Tuesday as reported in the Jerusalem Post.

"There is no enemy here, we're all on the same side. There is no winner or loser. We are all united," Ron-Tal avowed.

Ron-Tal added that it took the army a "long time" to construct the evacuation plan and to ensure that "the damages [in the evacuation] will be minimal."

Next week, Lt.-Cmdr. Aharon Franco, head of the second disengagement command center, and his 7,000 policemen and IDF troops will also train at "Chicago."

The training has been split up into two segments, each two weeks long. 5000 will participate in the first training leg, 7000 in the second. It should be completed by August 11. Army and police officers insist that the training is necessary and that the disengagement cannot take place without it. Because of the July heat, training is expected to go late into the night with afternoons slated for resting.

The security forces received uniforms specially designed for the evacuation. They will wear vests with stitched-on state emblems — a menorah and the Star of David.

The forces will be taught how to evacuate settlers unarmed and without using excessive force. The most they will carry, police officers have repeatedly said, "is a bottle of water and lip balm."

The security forces will be organized into teams of 17 policemen and soldiers. Police believe that a single team, commanded by either a police or IDF officer, will be enough to evacuate a single home. If there are pockets of heavy resistance, several teams will join to carry out the evacuation. Some units have already been divided up, but most will be assembled later from the ad hoc brigades that include members of nearly every branch of the IDF and the police.

To minimize injuries, the teams have also been split up into four smaller squads of four, since it takes four people to evacuate a single settler: two carrying the arms and two the legs.

Only officers and NCO team leaders will knock on the doors and speak with people in a house. Soldiers will not converse unless absolutely necessary. "We will arrive early in the morning, we'll knock on the door, and we won't discuss with the settlers why we're evacuating them, only how it will happen," an IDF commander explained.

Officers on the scene will decide how best to deal with each case on an individual basis. IDF psychologists are also to give instructions to soldiers and police on how to deal with the often high-pressure tactics of the withdrawal opponents. The security forces' training will include significant "mental preparation." They are to discuss theoretical scenarios, ways of dealing with them and their own psychological preparation.

The forces involved in the evacuation are due to arrive in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip on August 14 (Tisha B'Av). The evacuation is scheduled for August 15, but the IDF will reportedly give the settlers an additional 48 hours to evacuate on their own, so that security forces are expected to begin their operations on August 17 (12 Av).


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