MKs in uproar over soldiers' protest

MKs in uproar over soldi

negohot nachshon soldiers 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Negohot resident Asaf Freed)
negohot nachshon soldiers 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Negohot resident Asaf Freed)
Israel will not tolerate insubordination within IDF ranks and will uproot it at its core, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday, a day after soldiers from the Nahshon Battalion waved a banner protesting the razing of two illegally-built homes in a West Bank settlement. Two soldiers were sentenced to 30 days in military jail on Monday and another four were disciplined Tuesday; of the latter group, two were sentenced to 20 and 14 days in the brig respectively, while the other two were confined to their base for four weeks. 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 incident followed a similar act of insubordination last month when 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 the northern Samaria settlement evacuated during the 2005 disengagement. Both the Shimshon and Nahshon battalions are part of the Kfir Brigade. IDF sources said the military would consider revoking Hesder status from the Elon Moreh yeshiva, run by Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who called on soldiers to refuse orders ahead of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Levanon rejected the criticism and called on Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to keep the IDF out of what he called "politically-driven operations." "The operation conducted was reckless, negative and bad," he said. "The IDF must be scrubbed clean of this." Chief IDF Education Officer Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermeister, asserted that although two incidents of insubordination had "occurred one after the other," all they signified was that "a small number of soldiers crossed red lines and must be punished." Shermeister added that "the IDF will not be able to fulfill its missions if discipline and codes of conduct are not enforced." MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor) and Nachman Shai (Kadima) called on Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) to hold an urgent hearing on the phenomenon of soldiers refusing orders. "The incidents in the Kfir Brigade testify to the fact that underneath the surface, a culture of refusal to follow orders and insubordination reigns. Despite the brigade commander's quick response to the incident, the chain of recent events indicates that there is something rotten in the Kfir Brigade," said Shai, a former Chief IDF Spokesman and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. But there were other MKs who saw the root of the problem not in the failure to carry out orders but in the mission itself. MKs Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and former IDF chief medical officer Aryeh Eldad (National Union) revealed Tuesday that they had drafted a bill that would forbid using IDF soldiers to assist in the forcible evacuation of Jews. The bill would prohibit the IDF from acting to enforce any law that is not related to national security, unless the Knesset approved it by a super-majority of 80 votes. Other members of Likud, Shas and the National Union also signed on to the bill, which its sponsors hope to bring before the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Although the bill's sponsors expressed optimism that following the incidents in the Kfir Brigade the vote would be met with wide-reaching support, the same bill already failed to garner a majority in the past. "This bill was designed to maintain the IDF's mission as the defense forces of Israel and to prevent the use of IDF soldiers in order to carry out political decisions regarding evicting Jews from their houses," said Hotovely Tuesday. Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.