IDF Soldier Dismissed for Refusing to Assist Shomron Demolition

An IDF soldier from the Nachal Hareidi removed from his position for refusing to assist a demolition in Yitzhar.

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Elad Benari,

Buildings demolished at Yitzhar
Buildings demolished at Yitzhar
Samaria Residents' Council

An IDF soldier who refused to take part in a demolition in the Shomron last week was sentenced by a military court on Tuesday and removed from his position as a fighter.

The soldier, Pini Shendorfi, who serves in the Nachal Hareidi, was sent last Wednesday night, along with his fellow soldiers, to Migron, to replace a Border Police unit which had been sent to the Shomron community of Yitzhar to participate in the eviction and demolition of three permanent buildings.

Shendorfi refused to replace the Border Police unit, telling his commanders that he will not take part in a "mission against Jews." This statement resulted in his being dismissed.

His mother, Ronit Shendorfi, told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that the punishment is difficult for her son. "He is not afraid of going to jail, but he also wanted to remain a combat soldier. They want to transfer him to a non-combatant task, and that for him is the worst possible punishment,” she said.

She added that to the best of her knowledge, the Nahal Hareidi had never before sent its soldiers to participate in evictions in Judea and Samaria. “It could be that in this case they did not realize that he would indirectly also be helping the eviction. It's true that they didn’t ask him to physically evacuate Jews from their homes, but he did not want to help the eviction in any way.”

“He cannot bear to participate in an eviction in any way,” said Shendorfi. “He knows what it is like to be evicted. We had demolition orders on our synagogue. It is hard for him.”

She expressed hope that the verdict will change, saying, “He had a conversation with his battalion commander today and he really hopes they’ll let him stay in his combat unit.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said on Tuesday that “the soldier in question was removed from his combat position. It should be emphasized that the IDF condemns disobedience and acts sternly against any violation of military orders.”

Large numbers of IDF troops and Border Police descended on Yitzhar during last week’s overnight raid, destroying several buildings in a new section of the town, called Haseruga. The government contends that the section is an illegal outpost. The section was established about six months ago, after several attempts to build a community there were thwarted.

A spokesperson for Yitzhar said that police acted in a brutal and vicious manner, tying up the security guard of the town and confiscating his cellphone so he could not alert residents to the raid, which took place at 3:30 AM.

Roads into and out of Yitzhar were blocked, and several residents who were returning home at that late hour were forced to walk to their homes, abandoning their cars on the highway, because police would not let them through. Residents who heard noises and shouting called the local security group, and were told that the town was part of a late-night security drill.

Several young people who were in the buildings were arrested, and their cellphones were confiscated as well. Photographers who tried to reach the site to record the destruction and violence were intimidated by police.

In July, an IDF soldier was dismissed from a company commanders’ course after he refused to participate in an ambush meant to catch perpetrators of “price tag” incidents.

The soldier, who served in the Kfir fighter unit, was asked to lie in ambush near a Jewish neighborhood in Hevron, where military officials believed price tag incidents were being planned.

The soldier, a resident of the Binyamin community of Kochav Yaakov, informed his superiors that he would rather not participate in this activity because, as he put it, he was not recruited to the IDF to arrest Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria but rather to help the people of Israel and fight enemies. He was put on trial and it was decided to dismiss him from the course and also suspend him for six months.