Soldiers who brought pro-settlement sign to swearing-in to face tribunal

Kfir soldiers We wont

By
October 23, 2009 13:13
1 minute read.

 
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Infantrymen who displayed a sign pledging never to help evacuate the Samaria settlement of Homesh during their swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall last week are set to face a military tribunal for their actions, the IDF said on Saturday. Homesh was evacuated during 2005's disengagement, but activists have continued to try to reestablish the community. The soldiers had completed a training course for the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade and attended a swearing-in ceremony in which they pledged allegiance to the state and promised to defend its security and democracy. In a video snapped on Friday by an activist belonging to a group opposed to the clearance of Homesh, a number of soldiers can be seen holding up a large banner that reads, "Shimshon does not evacuate Homesh." The soldiers may be expelled from the battalion, and are expected to face a heavy punishment for presenting a political message during an official IDF ceremony. Their actions have sparked a wave of reactions from the Right in defense of the sign, and severe condemnations from the Left. MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) described their conduct as a legitimate protest. The soldiers were recruited to "fight the enemy, not their brothers," he said. The SOS Israel group has announced it will reward the soldiers with thousands of shekels for taking a pro-settlement stance in public. But the soldiers faced a chorus of criticism from the Left and Center, and many commentators voiced their concern about the influence of political ideologies on IDF personnel. Pinchas Wallerstein, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said soldiers must not be allowed to voice political views, and called for a crackdown on such expressions within the army. Peace Now called for Defense Minister Ehud Barak to punish the soldiers, saying that attempts to convert the military into a political organization were a threat to democracy and society.

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