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In an effort to combat the phenomenon of soldiers refusing orders in the army, Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan has proposed passing a law that would change the wording of the IDF oath to ensure that soldiers only obey orders issued by their commanders and not by their rabbis.
Two weeks ago, 12 soldiers from the Kfir Brigade refused orders to participate in the evacuation of two storefronts in the Hebron marketplace. The soldiers were tried by their commanders and sentenced to 28 days in prison. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni also decided that following their jail terms the soldiers would be barred from serving in combat positions for the duration of their military service.
According to Vilan's proposal, the word "only" would be added into the oath after soldiers declare that they will "obey all the orders and instructions handed down by authorized commanders." Vilan also proposed that soldiers sign a document containing the oath as an act that he said "would reinforce their commitment to the IDF and its laws."
"I am against any type of ideological refusal of orders," Vilan, a former soldier in the IDF's elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) explained Sunday. "By adding the word 'only' the soldiers are obligating themselves to only obeying their commanders and no one else."
In his proposal, which was sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Vilan also recommends removing the declaration that soldiers will sacrifice their lives during their military service from the IDF oath. He said that the words "sacrifice my life" should be replaced with "give my entire self." Vilan said that Joseph Trumpeldor's dying words "It is good to die for our country" were no longer applicable and relevant for today's youth.
"No one goes to serve in the IDF to sacrifice his life and to die," Vilan explained. "Soldiers do all they can to protect the state and sometimes they have to pay with their lives, but this is not the goal they start their military service with." Barak's office and the IDF said they were reviewing the proposal.