Col. Hirsch Expels Another Student for Political Views

A young cadet in the IDF Officers Training School has been expelled from the school because he said he would not fulfill orders, if given, to destroy Jewish communities.

, | updated: 11:16

The soldier was taking part in a class on democratic ideals and refusal. The issue arose during discussion about last year's "Pilots' Letter," in which a group of Israel Air Force pilots wrote that they would refuse to drop bombs on residential areas used by terrorists to hide. During the course of the class, the commander said that the army would not tolerate refusal under any circumstances, and that he himself would volunteer to evacuate Jewish communities in Yesha.

The soldier in question - a resident of Karnei Shomron in northwestern Samaria who serves in the Engineering Corps - was unable to remain silent, and said that there was no room for comparison between the two issues. He made it clear that he would refuse an order to take part in demolishing Jewish communities.

The soldier's father told the Yediot Acharonot newspaper, "My son said that the refusal of the pilots, who in the middle of a war announced that they would not fight, is not the same as ideological refusal to expel citizens from their homes and destroy Jewish communities in the Land of Israel. He said that the evacuation of communities is a badge of shame for the country, and that the comparison to the pilots who refused is inflammatory."

Col. Gal Hirsch, Commander of the Officers School, in consultation with other officers, spoke with the soldier, who repeated his claims and said that the disengagement plan "stands in opposition to the spirit of the Declaration of Independence." Hirsch then removed him from the course, for reasons of "unsuitability" and "unbecoming behavior."

The soldier's father, Vitaly Vovnoboy, who made Aliyah from one of the former Soviet Union countries in the late 1980's, told Army Radio that he is proud of his son. "An order to evacuate communities is a blatantly illegal order, which no one is allowed to fulfill. If they tell the soldiers to conquer the Knesset, would they be expected to fulfill that order?" He added that when he was in the Diaspora, "I dreamt for a long time that my son would serve in the Israel Defense Forces." The father also said, "I taught him that the IDF is a humanitarian, strong, and thinking army. But now he sees that the army... creates a situation in which soldiers and officers are afraid to sound their views and to ask questions. This is the true danger, not my son."

Col. Hirsch, in February of this year, also removed a cadet from an officers' course after he expressed harsh criticism of then-Chief of Staff Sha'ul Mofaz, now the Defense Minister. The would-be officer criticized Mofaz for the way he handled the October 2000 incident at Joseph's Tomb - in which soldier Madhat Yusuf bled to death while the army waited for PA forces to allow Israel to rescue him. Likud MK Ayoub Kara, who led an unsuccessful public campaign at the time to have the student reinstated, spoke with Arutz-7 today about Col. Hirsch's apparent tendency to oust students because of their political views, said,
"It's a terrible thing for an army to do. In this [latest] case, the student is not refusing orders, but merely expressed his view about what he would do if and when he faces the situation. To oust a student from the course because of his views?!"

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