Insubordination concerns rise amid evacuations

Warning of a growing wave of insubordination, senior defense officials called on Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday, Aug. 7 to work to withdraw the IDF’s support of hesder yeshivas whose heads have called on their students to refuse military orders.

Hesder yeshivas are those that combine religious studies with service in the Israel Defense Forces.

The warning came a day after 12 soldiers refused orders to man a checkpoint near Hebron ahead of the evacuation of two stalls in the West Bank city’s marketplace on Tuesday. The 12 were sentenced to 28 days in prison.

“This type of insubordination needs to be uprooted from its core,” said a senior IDF officer. “It is not enough to punish the soldiers. But the rabbis they consulted with and who gave them permission to refuse the orders also need to be punished.”

Scenes from the evacuation were reminiscent of some of the more violent evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza in 2005.

Facing a hail of rocks, chunks of cement blocks and just about everything else that came to hand, 3,000 security men and women took four hours to evacuate two Jewish families, totaling 17 people, from the apartments they had occupied in Hebron’s market area on Tuesday.

Security forces used sledge hammers, chain saws and power clippers as they stormed the heavily barricaded apartment building where protesters surprised them with a new strategy: three people entombed in a 1.5-meter-tall concrete-and-wood bunker.

When the 1,000 police and 2,000 IDF troops arrived in the open area in front of the three apartments set to be evacuated, the first groups of police encountered a group of boys with faces covered by scarves and T-shirts, standing on top of the building.

By the time the mayhem was over, 15 people were injured in the fracas, 11 of them police officers. Settlers said 28 of their protestors were treated for injuries.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the insubordination within the hesder yeshiva soldiers, and said that such a phenomenon did not have a place in the IDF.

“Our army is the only army we have and the soldiers receive their orders solely from their commanders and no one else — no matter how important, honorable or worthy they might be,” Barak said Tuesday during a visit to the IDF Ground Forces Training Base in Tze’elim. “There is no place among us for insubordination.”

Speaking to a group of reserve officers, Barak added that he planned to take action to curb the growing number of youth who evade military service. “We intend to deal with and drastically limit this phenomenon,” he declared.