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Hagit Rein: Benaya Saved 20 Lives By Disobeying IDF Orders

There are sometimes good reasons for soldiers to disobey orders, said the mother of a soldier who saved 20 lives by doing so.
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/3/2013, 3:58 PM

 Benaya Rein
Benaya Rein
Courtesy photo

Hagit Rein, the mother of slain IDF soldier Benaya Rein, told Arutz Sheva in an interview Thursday that there was room in the IDF for the disobeying of orders by IDF soldiers. In the case of an order that her son disobeyed during the Second Lebanon War, the lives of nearly two dozen soldiers were saved.

“During the war, there was an incident where several soldiers in south Lebanon were lost in the field. They didn't have accurate maps, and there was a lot of confusion,” Hagit Rein said. Benaya's commender spied several figures in the distance and ordered a soldier to open fire on them, positive that they were Hizbullah terrorists. But Benaya wasn't convinced that they were terrorists – and he refused to shoot.

Instead, he told the commander, he was taking a tank to advance towards the group to check them out, despite the danger. When he reached the group, he found 20 Israeli soldiers who had gotten lost in the field.

 “Imagine if Benaya had fired at them,” said Hagit Rein. “Because he refused to follow his commander's order, the lives of these soldiers were saved.” She added that during the shiva period after Benaya himself was killed – one of the last soldiers to die during the Second Lebanon War, when the tank he was commanding was hit by a Hizbullah missile – many of the soldiers who were in that group came to her house to pay their respects, and to praise and thank Benaya for saving them.

Rein is set to speak to IDF tank crews Thursday at an event in Latrun, where the main IDF tank command is located. She plans to talk about Benaya, but also about soldiers' taking responsibility for their own actions. “They have to think about the context of what they are doing, to use their head and not just follow the rules 'by the book,'” she said. “Because Benaya used his head, the lives of many soldiers were saved.”

Each situation is different, and Israel's enemies use different tactics today from those they did during the war, the bereaved mother said – but no matter what the situation, soldiers needed to pay attention and think before they act.

Hagit Rein said she was supporting Naftali Bennett's Bayit Yehudi in the elections, and said she was proud of how he handled the question of disobeying orders in the last two weeks' media flap over an interview he gave on Channel Two on the matter. In the interview, Bennett said that while following orders was important – in the context of evicting Jews from their homes, as the government is attempting to do in several new communities in Judea and Samaria – it would be understandable that soldiers might feel uncomfortable with those orders. If that was the case, he added, they should tell their commanders that they are unable to fulfill those orders and ask to be transferred.

Bennett said in the interview that he would act in that way if faced with a moral dilemma between obeying orders as a soldier and expelling innocent people from their homes, and Hagit Rein said she was impressed. “It was true and genuine and came from the heart,” she said of Bennett's position. “I hope he doesn't get ruined by politics.”