Halutz approves punishing soldiers who were too scared to take part in mission.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
A unit commander and sergeant of the elite Duvdevan undercover unit who refused to participate in a raid in Jenin on November 21 of last year will be barred from serving in any position of leadership during their remaining army service.
Two soldiers from the unit will be transferred to another combat infantry outfit, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz said Monday, thereby upholding the findings of a special probe launched to investigate the incident.
Halutz also approved serving a reprimand to Lt.-Col. A, the commander of the elite unit, for failing to address the needs of the soldiers.
Halutz announced his decision after reviewing the findings presented to him by Etzion district commander Col. Nitsan Alon, who headed the investigating team.
Explaining his decision to allow the two soldiers to continue serving in combat positions in another infantry unit, Halutz noted that the two combat soldiers failed to meet the standards expected from soldiers serving in such an elite unit such as Duvdevan.
"However, due to the circumstances they were confronted with at a time when their direct commanders displayed a negative example, and taking into account the operational duties they undertook while serving in the unit over a long period of time, the two combat soldiers will be transferred to another combat infantry unit," he said.
While praising the investigating team's work which he described as "thorough and professional," Halutz stressed that one should remember that the elite Duvdevan unit is the spearhead of the hard and continuous battle waged against Palestinian terror.
Halutz also noted the failure of the unit's commanders to address and deal with the soldiers' emotional distress they suffered at the time of their refusal to participate in the arrest operation in Jenin. The commanders, said Halutz, should be more aware and sensitive to the soldiers' needs and should maintain constant and in depth dialogues with them.
On November 28, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh ordered that three of the soldiers be transferred to administrative positions outside their unit, and that the unit commander be dismissed. On November 23, Naveh temporarily suspended the four soldiers from operational duty for refusing to participate in the military operation, and ordered an in-depth investigation into the circumstances that led to the soldiers' decision.
Prior to setting out on the November mission, the four soldiers informed their commander that they were unable to participate in the raid, stating they feared for their lives. They explained to their commander that their feelings stemmed from a recent operation they participated in which was carried out under constant Palestinian gunfire.
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