Anti-Expulsion Anger Spreads, New Banner Found
Anger against the use of soldiers in demolition of Jewish homes and the expulsion of Jews spread to another IDF base Thursday. It is not clear if visiting pre-army students or soldiers were behind an attempt to raise a protest banner. The base is used for training Kfir divison soldiers, several of whom have been punished in the last month for unfurling two anti-expulsion banners.
The latest sign read, “Kfir does not expel Jews” and was found by officers near the entrance to the base. An IDF spokesman said the banner was found in an area where students from a pre-military "mechina" school were visiting. However, one soldier at the base told Arutz 7 that soldiers not associated with the Hesder yeshiva program, and the students, had planned to raise the banner near the entrance to the base.
The discovery of the sign is bound to aggravate heated arguments on several issues. A growing sentiment is that although soldiers should not disobey orders, the government should not order the IDF to involve soldiers in civilian actions, such as taking part in the demolition of Jewish homes or the expulsion of Jews in what are implicitly political actions in Judea and Samaria.
Deputy Defense Minister (Matan Vilnai) said Thursday afternoon that Hesder yeshiva students, who are among the protestors, are excellent soldiers but that refusal of orders cannot be tolerated.
Kfir commander Colonel Oren Avman earlier this week threw two Nachshon battalion soldiers out of combat service, demoted them and ordered them to stay on base for 30 days for unfurling a protest banner at a base in the southern Hevron Hills. The protest action came several hours after other soldiers participated in an expulsion at a nearby Jewish community.
Knesset Members Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Tzipi Hotobeli (Likud) have introduced a bill into the Knesset that would prohibit the use of soldiers instead of police in actions that are not related to defending the country against Israel’s enemies.
The first protest action occurred last month when soldiers in the Kfir division’s Shimshon battalion raised a protest banner at a swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.