Entire Company Refuses Orders, IDF Rabbi Says to Disobey

Refusal to participate in the Disengagement Plan continues to spread throughout the IDF, with an IDF officer, rabbi and an entire IDF company all declaring their refusal in recent days.

Ezra HaLevi , | updated: 13:44

An entire company of the prestigious Golani Brigade refused to take part in the blockade of Kfar Maimon last Wednesday. The company was to be deployed to take part in massive efforts by security forces to contain some 40,000 anti-expulsion protesters and prevent them from marching toward Gush Katif.

Before the company was deployed, the company commander briefed the soldiers. He asked at the conclusion of his speech whether any of the soldiers had a problem with the task assigned to them. One of the soldiers, not one of the brigade's many outwardly religious members, got up and said that he in fact had a problem with the task. Others followed suit and, in the end, it was decided to send the entire company elsewhere.

The Golani Brigade has already been removed from the inner circle of the Disengagement implementation forces altogether due to widespread concern among officers of mass refusal.

Once word of Golani’s removal from the front line got out, stickers began appearing throughout the country, with the Golani insignia and the words, “My Golani Does Not Expel Jews.” In recent weeks, stickers referring to other units have sprung up as well, including “Border Police Have a Border: Expelling Jews.”

Although the IDF rabbinate has been outspoken against refusing orders, to the extent that one IDF rabbi told six refusing paratroopers that their actions were “destroying the IDF and the redemption,” one IDF rabbi publicly urged soldiers to refuse orders to man the blockade of Gush Katif Sunday.

IDF Capt. Rabbi Amitai Bar-Eli, the chief religious officer of the Northern Gaza Brigade, called upon soldiers at the Kisufim Crossing to refuse orders.

Bar-Eli, a 30-year-old Be’er Sheva resident, arrived at the checkpoint in his private vehicle. When his passengers were requested to show their identity cards, they began speaking to the troops about the task assigned to them. Bar-Eli, seeing troops under his command demanding identity papers from residents entering Gush Katif, declared, “I would never give such an order to my soldiers.” He added that he considers the order both “illegal and immoral.”

“I would not give an order to my soldiers to uproot residents from their homes,” added Bar-Eli. “This is not why you joined the army,” he told the soldiers, “this is outrageous and you must refuse the order.”

Military officials indicated they plan to arrest the captain and hold a disciplinary trial for refusing orders and for inciting soldiers to refuse. IDF officials are concerned that because Bar-Eli made his call for refusal while in uniform, at a checkpoint and in front of a senior officer, his action signals a trend of high-profile refusals.

The IDF’s current strategy is to try to keep refusals quiet, referring to them as isolated incidents, so as not to give the appearance of a movement that may jeopardize the implementation of the withdrawal.

Joining scores of IDF reserve officers who handed back their ranks at the Haifa draft office to protest the Disengagement two weeks ago, Lt.-Col. (res.) Haggai Shmueli returned his reserves card to the IDF Sunday. GOC of the Central Command, Major General Yair Naveh, announced Monday that the officer had been dismissed from his position and from any future position in the army.

Maj.-Gen. Naveh invited the officer to a hearing where he clarified his position, namely that the army expects soldiers to carry out the decisions of the state and the military echelons and refrain from making political statements.