The IDF is worried that as many as a third of its soldiers in Judea and Samaria will refuse to take part in expulsions of Jews from their homes and has begun instructing its officers how to deal with the phenomenon.
Judea and Samaria Regional Commander Brigadier General Noam Tibon sent detailed instructions to officers throughout his command offering guidelines towards dealing with the refusal of orders, in a document revealed Wednesday by the Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz .
“A third of soldiers and officers may have difficulty” carrying out evacuation orders, the document reads. They require “extensive care and counseling” to insure their cooperation, it continues.
Tibon recognizes in the document that evacuating outposts or communities is not a “traditional combat mission” but rather the IDF carrying out “governmental decisions, which are a matter of public debate” and likely to cause “refusal of orders by individual or groups of soldiers.” IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi previously has said that police should carry out expulsions without the help of soldiers.
The instructions allow officers leeway in exempting certain soldiers from participating in evacuations. “A lenient policy must be adopted towards commanders or soldiers who have a family or social connection to the population being evacuated,” it reads.
However, for soldiers actively refusing orders, the guidelines offer no leniency. “Red lines need to be drawn for cases of refusal. Until the soldier actually refuses the order, the officer should display empathy; however if a soldier refuses, clear disciplinary action must be taken.”
Tibon also recommends that commanding officers take a central role during evacuations and act as “a personal role model,” taking command at points of tension and not delegating responsibility to individual soldiers.
The guidelines are reminiscent of those implemented by the IDF during the 2005 Disengagement from Gush Katif and northern Gaza, when approximately 9,000 Jews lost their homes. During that expulsion, officers took a central role in dealing with the Jewish residents, and the IDF took extensive precautions before the expulsion to identify soldiers who would potentially refuse orders.
The internal IDF document also comes as Defense Minister Ehud Barak has repeatedly said he will evacuate 23 outposts throughout Judea and Samaria. Security forces most recently threatened to destroy three caravans in Bnei Adam, just north of Jerusalem. A Supreme Court order delaying the evacuation expired at midnight on Tuesday.