Court mediates as soldier demands to be in combat
Soldier had previously suffered leukemia denied combat role by IDF because of higher health risk.
IDF arrests Palestinian man in Ramallah [file] Photo: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters
The High Court of Justice on Monday brokered an informal meeting as a compromise
between a soldier who demanded to serve in a fighting unit and the IDF, which
has denied his request.
The soldier, Yoav Danguri- Hayat, previously
suffered from leukemia, but claims he has made a full recovery. The IDF said
that even so, there are unpredictable and higher health risks to Danguri-Hayat
in a fighting unit that could not be ignored.
Originally, the IDF denied
the soldier the option of fighting in a combat unit as a matter of general
policy, without looking at his individual circumstances. Such a policy could
possibly have been ruled as unconstitutional, for unreasonably violating an
individual’s right to be evaluated for employment purposes based on individual
circumstances, and allowing across-the-board discrimination because of a prior
However, by Monday’s hearing, the IDF had already
altered its rejection of his request to serve in a fighting unit, accepting in
principle that someone with a health condition could serve in combat, while
rejecting his specific case as being too risky.
In an emotional appeal,
the soldier told the court first through his attorney and then personally that
he had “dreamed his whole life” of being in a fighting unit and that he was
Initially, while the court said it appreciated his
sentiment, the justices said they saw no way to get involved in the
Courts cannot be in the business of second-guessing doctors on
health issues, said Justice Edna Arbel. If an IDF medical expert has declared
him too risky for combat service, even if he has several counter-experts and is
currently in excellent physical condition, which Danguri-Hayat said was the
case, the court had to defer to the IDF.
Danguri-Hayat’s case was even
more difficult, according to the court, because he had actually been given a
soughtafter intelligence position in the IDF. As a result, Danguri- Hayat could
not say that the IDF was refusing to let him serve in the armed
Danguri-Hayat and his attorney argued that while the IDF had said
it had reviewed his medical file, in reality, it had not, and certainly had not
carefully analyzed his case. In particular, they noted that the IDF, in response
to his petition, had demanded that he produce his medical file, though they
already had it.
In response, the justices pressured the IDF to agree to
allow Danguri-Hayat an informal hearing with its senior medical authority, who
had vetoed his involvement in a combat unit.
Initially, the IDF agreed to
the meeting in order for Danguri- Hayat to hear from its expert directly why his
request was rejected, but not for a real exchange of views.
further by the court, the IDF agreed to leave the case open so that, at least in
theory, Danguri-Hayat might have a chance of convincing the IDF’s medical expert
to change his opinion.
The court then ruled that its decision on the
petition would be postponed pending the meeting between Danguri- Hayat and the
IDF medical authority.