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      Disengagement Refusals Continue

      Despite the public perception that army refusals to take part in the expulsion are a marginal phenomenon, reports of unrest, lack of motivation and outright refusal continue to be collected.
      By Hagit Rotenberg and Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 8/15/2005, 8:44 AM / Last Update: 8/14/2005, 4:38 PM

      A soldier who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union several years ago intentionally broke his own arm, in order to avoid having to take part in the expulsion of Jews from their homes. So reported his commanding officer on condition of anonymity, saying that the now-disabled soldiers is one of his best.

      A group of infantry cadets at Training Base #1, planning to complete their officers' training course two months from now, told their commander, "Despite all the mental and psychological preparations we are undergoing, you know that we're not planning to go down [to Katif] to do it." The commander then assembled the entire brigade of approximately 100 soldiers, and said, "Next week we're going down to evacuate Gush Katif. How many of you are coming with me?" Forty per cent raised their hands.

      A 2nd-Lieutenant has been warned that he will not be promoted in light of his refusal to take part in disengagement preparations. Lt. Yigal Vanunu was sentenced to 21 days in prison for a similar offense, and Pvt. Aviel Mark was sentenced to 28 days for refusing - for a second time - to take part in the expulsion. A female Air Force driver was exempted from taking part in the expulsion after she announced that she would not do so. A Border Guard soldier who has already served seven days in jail for similar offenses said he will leave the Border Guard in order to avoid taking part in the expulsion.

      Over two dozen soldiers in a company-commanders course informed their commander that they will refuse to take part in expulsion activities in Gush Katif - in the knowledge that this would prevent them from being able to complete the course. They asked to sign "concession" forms for the course, but in light of the increasing tendency to do so, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz has outlawed the forms.

      A lecturer who was invited to speak with a group of IDF officers about to take part in the disengagement reported afterwards that the atmosphere of discouragement and depression amongst them was palpable.

      A group of 15 religious-services officers informed their commanding rabbinical officer that they will not take part in the disengagement. Their officer advised them to find a way to avoid taking part, and they told him that they would not take part even if they do not find an elegant way out.