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      IDF General: Army Doesn´t Realize Extent of Crisis

      "Hundreds of soldiers will tell their officers that they simply cannot carry out the expulsion orders – if not at the first community, then at the second." So says a high-ranking army general.
      First Publish: 3/22/2005, 9:24 PM / Last Update: 3/18/2005, 10:58 AM

      Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz decided earlier this week to shorten the duration of the planned expulsion in Gush Katif and northern Shomron from 8 weeks to 3-4 weeks. The significance of this for the army is that it will be more actively involved than thought, as the police will not be able to carry it out alone. Some 8,500 Jews live in the 25 communities that are slated for demolition. Not all of them will have to be forcibly removed, as they will have left voluntarily before the final date, but many others will come to take their place.

      Veteran Haaretz journalist Amos Harel writes that the IDF General Staff does not have an authorized estimate of the extent of the expected refusal among soldiers ordered to take part in the disengagement plan this summer. One general told him that the army is underrating the intensity of the crisis, and that hundreds of soldiers will tell their commanders that they "simply cannot" carry out the orders to forcibly remove Jewish women and children from their homes in the Land of Israel.

      At least 10,000 soldiers have signed petitions saying they will refuse such orders. The signature collectors reported that for every soldier who signed, there were five - some said seven – who said that they don't want to sign, but could be counted on not to take part in the disengagement.

      One fear in the army is that the refusal phenomenon will gather steam as the expulsions continue: Soldiers who take part in an evacuation will be shocked at the experience, and will then not take part in the next one, etc.

      Another general expressed a different view to Harel, saying that refusals will not be widespread.

      The army has reviewed the signatures of those who signed their refusal to carry out the disengagement, in order to see in which units they face the most problems. Only one signatory has been punished, as far as is known: an armored corps soldier serving in Gaza, who was sentenced to 21 days in the dock.

      Two IDF divisions are to be deployed in the "inner circle" of the evacuation. A third one – the Gaza Division, commanded by Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kokhavi – will be in the "second circle," and will be responsible for rebuffing Arab attacks on the soldiers and/or residents.

      In four communities of the northern Shomron, the residents are not of the same mind. Those living in Ganim and Kadim plan to leave without a fight, while in Sa-Nur and Homesh the residents plan to stand strong. In Gush Katif, only a small percentage have agreed to take government-offered compensation, and even of this number, most are not expected to leave before the date they are forced to.