Refusenik soldiers to return to hesder

Two Nahshon soldiers disciplined for banner stunt to finish service.

311_homesh (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
After declaring that it would respond with a heavy hand to insubordination, the IDF decided last week to backtrack on its punishment against two soldiers who waved a banner against a military action, allowing them to return to the hesder track from which they had been expelled.
Last November, Achiya Melamed and Malkiel Horovitz from the Nahshon Battalion waved a banner reading “Also Nahshon does not evacuate” from the rooftop of a building on their base in the South Hebron Hills, shortly after Border Police razed two illegal homes in the Negohot outpost.They were following the example Shimshon soldiers set a month before during the evacuation of Homesh, when two of them held a banner reading “Shimshon does not evacuate Homesh.”
Melamed and Horovitz were suspended and expelled from the hesder track they were part of, thus placing them in a normal military track, as part of which they would have to serve three years of active service. Most hesder students serve 16 months of active military duty, but Melamed and Horovitz had signed on for an additional eight months in order to become section commanders. Their two-year military service will conclude at the end of July.
Last April, the soldiers requested of IDF’s OC Manpower Maj- Gen.
Avi Zamir that they be returned to the hesder track, and the Hesder Union also began appealing their cause to many different sources in the IDF.
Col. Gad Agmon, commander of the IDF draft and induction center in Tel Hashomer (Meitav), recently told the union that following his recommendation, Zamir decided to return the soldiers to the hesder track. They will accordingly be ending their active military service at the end of July, and returning to the Elon Moreh yeshiva for an additional study stint. Agmon noted that the decision was made due to the army’s desire to enhance its cooperation with the Hesder Union, and following the IDF’s conclusion that the insubordinate soldiers’ remorse was sincere.
Hesder Union CEO Eitan Ozeri praised the IDF’s move, calling it “an expression of the firm and longstanding bond between the hesder yeshivot and the army.”
Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who heads the Elon Moreh yeshiva, thanked the military for its decision in a letter, and the Hesder Union for their efforts in promoting the move. Levanon has on more than one occasion reiterated his support for refusing military orders under certain circumstances.
Soldiers expressed remorse for actions in letter
Zamir’s decision to allow the soldiers to return to the hesder program was received with surprise due to the IDF’s initial declaration following the incident that it would not tolerate soldiers who refuse orders or call on others to do so.
In response to the claims, the IDF Spokesman’s Office said in a statement that the soldiers had expressed remorse for their actions in a letter they wrote several months ago to Zamir.
“After the soldiers who were involved in waving the protest flag wrote the letter, head of the Manpower Division Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir summoned them for a hearing with the commander of the IDF’s Meitav Branch to interview the soldiers and consider the possibility of allowing them to return to hesder,” the IDF statement said.
“After the soldiers expressed deep remorse for their actions during the interview, head of the Manpower Division decided to permit them to return to hesder.”
The IDF further noted that the soldiers will still complete 24 full months of active military service in comparison to the 16 months that most hesder students do. In addition, Zamir said that the IDF would not tolerate any future incidents in which soldiers refuse orders.
“If there are additional cases in the future they will be handled in accordance with the full severity of the law,” Zamir said.