As US-sponsored peace talks have stalled over the issue of settlements, Israel’s national police force has revealed that it is turning to the very same illegal communities in its first-ever drive to recruit officers from among the settlers.
The special officer training course, which is chiefly aimed at discharged combat soldiers, includes seven months of religious studies in an extremist settlement in the occupied West Bank.
The program has provoked widespread concern among Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens, a fifth of the population.
“The police have already repeatedly demonstrated their hostility to Palestinian citizens, but this move proves that the authorities want to extend and deepen our oppression,” said Jafar Farah, the director of Mossawa, an advocacy center for the Palestinian minority.
“Is it really credible that these religious extremists who have been educated to hate Palestinians in the West Bank are going to behave differently when they police our communities inside Israel?”
The first 35 cadets in the officer-training program — known as “Believe in the police” — are to start their studies next month. More than 300 settlers are reported to have expressed an interest in the course so far.