Israel's Ground Forces in the Occupied Territories

Policing and the Juridification of Soldiering

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Center for Society, Security and Peace, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, Israel eyal1953@gmail.com
  • 2 Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, Ariel University, Israel uzibs@ariel.ac.il
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Abstract

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) routinely rotate ground forces in and out of the Occupied Territories in the West Bank. While these troops are trained for soldiering in high-intensity wars, in the Territories they have long had to carry out a variety of policing activities. These activities often exist in tension with their soldierly training and ethos, both of which center on violent encounters. IDF ground forces have adapted to this situation by maintaining a hierarchy of ‘logics of action’, in which handling potentially hostile encounters takes precedence over other forms of policing. Over time, this hierarchy has been adapted to the changed nature of contemporary conflict, in which soldiering is increasingly exposed to multiple forms of media, monitoring, and juridification. To maintain its public legitimacy and institutional autonomy, the IDF has had to adapt to the changes imposed on it by creating multiple mechanisms of force generation and control of soldierly action.

Contributor Notes

EYAL BEN-ARI was formerly a Professor of Anthropology at Hebrew University and is now a Fellow at the Center for Society, Security and Peace, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee. His main areas of research are the sociology of the armed forces, early childhood education, and popular culture in Asia. Recent publications include Civil–Military Entanglements: Anthropological Perspectives (2019, with Birgitte Refslund Sørensen) and Creative Context: Creativity and Innovation in the Media and Cultural Industries (2020, with Nissim Otmazgin). E-mail: eyal1953@gmail.com

UZI BEN-SHALOM is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ariel University. He is a military sociologist specializing in applied research in the Israel Defense Forces and is currently an active reservist, holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his service he taught military leadership and military psychology at the IDF Tactical Command College, and wrote the IDF Ground Forces Leadership Doctrine. He is a Joint Chair of the military and security community of the Israeli Sociological Association and a Board Member of the European Research Group on Military and Society (ERGOMAS). His research focuses on terror, sense-making, leadership, and behavior in combat. E-mail: uzibs@ariel.ac.il

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