2 soldiers jailed for settlement evacuation protest

2 soldiers refuse evacua

right-wing rabbis and activists 248.88 (photo credit: )
right-wing rabbis and activists 248.88
(photo credit: )
Two soldiers from the IDF's Nahshon Battalion were sentenced to 30 days in the brig and expelled from combat and command positions on Monday, after they hung a banner reading, "Nahshon also does not expel" from the roof of a building on their base to protest the razing of two illegal structures near the Negohot settlement earlier in the day. The soldiers, hesder yeshiva students from West Bank settlements, did not take part in the evacuation at Negohot. The Nahshon Battalion did, however, provide general security for the perimeter surrounding the homes that were evacuated by the Border Police. The army condemned the soldiers' protest. "The actions of those soldiers are completely unacceptable and contravene the values of the IDF," the military said in a statement. "Any attempt to involve the IDF in political discourse is inappropriate." On October 23, soldiers from the Shimshon Battalion waved a banner during their swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall that read, "Shimshon will not evacuate Homesh," a reference to one of four settlements in northern Samaria that were evacuated during the 2005 disengagement. Both the Shimshon and Nahshon battalions are part of the larger Kfir Brigade. Four other soldiers who were involved in raising the banner relating to Negohot will undergo disciplinary hearings on Tuesday. According to a source in the IDF's Central Command, the soldiers involved in waving the banner study in yeshivot in northern Samaria, a center of right-wing political extremism. Two of them, the source said, were students of Rabbi Elyakim Levanon from Elon Moreh, who has in the past called on his students to refuse evacuation orders. The evacuation and razing of the two homes near Negohot went off quietly. Asaf Fried, a resident of Negohot for more than a decade, said that large numbers of soldiers and border policemen removed two families from their homes. The Ben-David family has six children aged 12 to two months, and the Cohen family has one small child. "Within a short time, the families and all their belongings were taken out of the houses and now they have no place to live," said Fried, who added that the families received demolition orders from the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria a year ago, six months after they began construction. There are 40 families living in Negohot, which is the only settlement located on the western side of the Hebron Hills, about four km. from the Green Line. Negohot was originally established by the Defense Ministry and the IDF as a Nahal base. Hesder yeshiva student-soldiers and their families took over control of Negohot when it was transformed into a settlement in 1999. Fried said that for the past several years no defense minister has allowed building in the settlement to accommodate natural growth. Nechemia Krakower, spokesman for Negohot, said that the two houses that were destroyed were situated inside the approved boundaries of the settlement. "I am a law-abiding citizen," said Krakower. "But the present building freeze is forcing me and others to break the law to be able to live like human beings." Krakower and Fried pointed out that the law was not being enforced against Arabs in the Hebron area who had received demolition orders 10 years ago and continued to live in their illegal homes. Far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir blamed Defense Minister Ehud Barak for the deteriorating situation. "Over the past weeks, we've been approached by more and more soldiers who don't want to be [Barak's] pawns and to expel children from their homes," said the activist, who also serves as parliamentarian aid to MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union.) "Today, we are casting the responsibility upon the defense minister and saying that Barak is responsible for the recent uprisings in the IDF, and if such expulsions continue, there will be manifold and severe repercussions." Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer slammed soldiers from the Right who of late are resisting more and more orders for political reasons, which is not the wont of the Left, he said. "For years, thousands of soldiers from the Left fulfilled orders they were not at one with, such as securing settlements and illegal outposts. I do it, too, annually in my reserve service, and nobody rebels, and we accept the democratic decisions," Oppenheimer said. "This is a phenomenon of mutiny in the army, and should be dealt with severely," he said. "The leaders of the Right should act on this, and speak out against such things." Jerusalem Post staff contributed to the report.