MKs helped settlers defy IDF

Knesset members have been supplying the settlers with information on military operations to help them prevent the IDF and police from demolishing illegal outposts in the West Bank.

Five settlers were indicted on Sunday with running an intelligence-gathering team that collected details on the army's movements.

The headquarters of the team in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Kiryat Moshe was raided by police three weeks ago. The State Prosecutor is charging five members of the team with "spying" on the IDF.

It emerged in court that the settlers used "spotters" on the ground, as well as military sources - both soldiers and officers - sympathetic to their cause. These sources informed them of plans to evict outposts that the Supreme Court had ruled were built on land owned by Palestinians.

The information enabled the settlers to send hundreds of protesters to the outposts ahead of the security forces.

Among the team's sources were the Likud's coalition chairman, MK Ze'ev Elkin, and two Knesset Members of the right-wing National Union, Ya'akov Katz and Uri Ariel. Mr Elkin had informed them that the forces being mobilised on December 11 were not planning to evict the Ramat Gilad outpost.

The IDF has been long aware that it is almost impossible to keep plans and schedules of outpost evictions secret. To try to prevent plans leaking out, operational orders have been compartmentalised. Only the commanders of the territorial brigades are told about the exact timing of the evictions.

Mr Elkin said he had not disclosed any secret information but "only public information that was open". He said that his intention had been "to prevent clashes and work for agreement between the settlers and the government."

Last updated: 12:16pm, January 12 2012