Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, leader of both the Israeli and Diaspora Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox communities, received a surprise visit on Tuesday when Israel Defense Forces Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Nitzan Alon arrived at his Jerusalem home.
According to acquaintances, Alon sought the rabbi's blessing after the recent attacks he has experienced at the hands of right-wing elements. The meeting was coordinated by Upper Modi’in Mayor Rabbi Yaakov Guterman and Maj. (res.) Yair Kirshboim.
Right-wing extremists began picketing Alon's home and subjecting him and his family to verbal threats and insults following the leak of a confidential memo in which Alon called on the IDF to keep more religious soldiers out of the loop before settler evacuation operations, so they would not have the opportunity to tip off settlers about the upcoming operation.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week filed a formal request to examine all legal means, including emergency defense statutes, to protect Alon and his family.
Alon also asked that the rabbi help stop Jews from infiltrating Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, where there have been violent incidents in recent months. On April 24, 2011, a young member of Elyashiv’s community, Ben Yosef Livnat, was shot to death by a Palestinian security officer when he and some companions violated the IDF prohibition to pray at the site without permission. In recent weeks, 100 haredim (ultra-Orthodox) were granted special permission by the IDF to visit the tomb; however, a number of these visitors have continued to visit the tomb without coordinating with the army.
Rabbi Elyashiv responded that this is certainly a matter of life and death and that he does not support infiltrating the tomb without permission. The IDF confirmed that the meeting between Elyashiv and Alon took place but did not comment on the content of the conversation.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz condemned the attacks against Alon and expressed his confidence in the Judea and Samaria Brigade commander. “Alon is an accomplished officer who has devoted his life to the security of Israel and its citizens, and he will continue to do so in the future,” Gantz said. “I reject the accusations and harassment directed at him, as well as against any officer, in every sense of the word. It is unacceptable to compromise the authority of IDF commanders.”
Alon has said that he has no plans to alter his daily routine in light of the attacks.