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Daily Israel Report

Hareidi Soldiers Say Commanders Lied to Them

Soldiers of the IDF's Nachal Hareidi regiment write a sharp letter, complaining of a “mortal blow” to their trust in the IDF command.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/10/2010, 10:47 AM / Last Update: 8/10/2010, 10:54 AM

Shimshon Suhi

Soldiers of the Nachal Hareidi regiment – a heretofore successful experiment in integrating hareidi-religious soldiers in the IDF – write of a “mortal blow” to their trust in the IDF command.

The soldiers say their commanders lied to them during the recent (July 26th) destruction of a large house in Givat Ronen (Ronen Hill) outside the Jewish town of Har Bracha in Shomron (Samaria). The Nachal Hareidi soldiers were sent to replace the Border Guard forces, after being falsely told that the latter had gone southward for police work.

The destroyed home, built at a cost of hundreds of thousands of shekels, belonged to the Afarsimon family. The dozens of Border Guard and special Yassam police troops also destroyed a goat pen and caravan (mobile home without wheels) at the site. The incident, in which each of the neighboring Jewish homes was surrounded by police to prevent the residents from attempting to block the destruction, was followed by a sharp clash – part of the residents’ “Price Tag” response to actions of this nature -  between Jews and Arabs in which four Jews were hurt.

Forty Nachal Hareidi soldiers signed a letter, unprecedented in its sharp tone, to their battalion commanders and to IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz. Excerpts from the letter:

“This was an arrogant, disgraceful and deceptive act… We are saddened that time after time, the IDF does not realize that it should respect the values of Jewish tradition. This, in addition to the fact that the IDF does not know the different between a political mission that hurts the IDF goals and crumbles its ethical strength, and a security mission for which we risk our lives.

“In order to accomplish this mission [of destruction in Givat Ronen], the commanders knowingly lied to the regiment soldiers, telling them that they were to replace a Border Guard battalion that was leaving for the south for active duty – when in fact these Border Guardsman were actually involved in destroying Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria. This fact is a mortal blow to our trust in the IDF command. To deviate from the norm of telling the truth in the IDF is a mortal blow that could have ramifications in all the various planes of military behavior, both in routine work and at times of emergency.”

The soldiers say that their senior commanders lied to them knowing that many of the soldiers would not want to take part even indirectly in harming Jews and their property. “Instead, they chose to sacrifice the trust of their soldiers in their commanders, causing a direct blow to their combat readiness and ability – and all this in order to carry out a grave act that stands in opposition to the goals of the IDF.”

The IDF Spokesman, asked to comment on the issue, did not relate to the actual charges of lying and deception. Instead, he issued a peculiar statement to the effect that the soldiers did not actually mean to sign the letter. The statement reads: “According to a review conducted by the Central Command with the soldiers, it became clear that their names were affixed to the document without their permission, without authority and against their will, despite the fact that they asked, when the incident became known, to remove their names. The IDF rejects what is written in the document. The soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda Battalion [Nachal Hareidi] perform their work in a professional manner and are an important force in the combat needs of the Central Command.”

Destruction in Beit El, Nachliel
Just this morning (Tuesday), two other Jewish sites were destroyed by combined IDF-Border Guard forces. In Nachliel, in central Binyamin, a temporary synagogue was torn down, while another force arrived in Beit El to destroy a small shack built in defiance of the construction freeze. This was the second time this shack was thus destroyed. After the first destruction, early one morning just hours after the funeral of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, it was rebuilt with the help and/or encouragement of MKs Aryeh Eldad and Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh). It is now being rebuilt once again.