With tensions ongoing surrounding the future of the Samarian town of Homesh and its yeshivah, IDF soldiers are being impacted by the uncertainty along with what the yeshivah's administration refers to as the "tightening stranglehold" being enforced on Homesh, due to the policies of Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Three separate instances of refusal of orders have been reported in recent days, all in relation to Homesh and the roadblocks set up around the community, preventing unauthorized persons from accessing the yeshivah in vehicles. The recent policy of only permitting yeshivah students and teaching staff to drive into Homesh has already led to the revocation of the licenses of the rosh yeshivah (dean) and two others, after the drivers encountered a group of girls on their way on foot to Homesh as they passed by an Arab village, and told them to get into the cars for their own safety for the last few minutes of the drive up to the yeshivah.
Elisha Ben Kimon of Ynet reported on one instance of refusal of orders by an IDF soldier as told to him by an eye witness. The soldier had been sent to a commander's jeep after refusing orderes to check the vehicles of "settlers" and Palestinian Arabs. "This isn't why I enlisted," the soldier had said in explanation. Following the incident, he was sent for an "explanatory discussion" on the importance of maintaining discipline.
The second incident was documented by another eye witness, who recounted having seen a number of "settlers" approaching Homesh on foot. They passed the military checkpoint without being asked to show a permit, and a short while later, the soldiers at the checkpoint, of their own volition, decided to accompany the visitors to Homesh to their destination. "The commanding officer called out to them to return to the checkpoint, but they decided to continue accompanying the group on their way to the yeshivah," the eye-witness related.
Another soldier allegedly refused orders when he was told to block off an access route to "settlers" wishing to reach Homesh. The soldier refused, switched off the engine of the jeep he was sitting in, removed the keys, and left the area.
Approached for a response to these incidents, the IDF denied any knowledge of them having occurred. "The situation in Judea and Samaria for the soldiers serving there is a complex one demanding an understanding of how to deal with various sectors," a security official stated. "This is true of many areas, not just of Homesh. All soldiers who are sent to serve on duty in Judea and Samaria undergo advance preparation."
The official IDF spokesman's response noted that, "Security force policies related to the evacuated community of Homesh have not changed. The IDF acts and will continue to act according to the policies established by the political echelon."