A third protest banner proclaiming that "Kfir Brigade Doesn't Expel Jews" was discovered late Thursday at an IDF training base in the Jordan Valley. The commander who found the banner said the paint on it had not yet dried, indicating that it had been prepared just a short time earlier.
The incident is being reviewed by a number of commanders, and followed by the media. An IDF spokesman said early Thursday that a group of 170 hesder yeshiva students who were touring the base were being investigated along with their rabbi to determine whether they were involved in the incident. Later in the day, the spokesman clarified that it had been pre-military high school students that had actually been touring the base, not hesder yeshiva students as he had earlier said.
However, Arutz Sheva reporter Tuvia Lerner said he spoke with one of the soldiers who prepared the sign, and that he made it clear that high school students and yeshiva students were not involved in the incident. "We have no logical explanation for destroying caravans and expelling thousands of children from their homes while illegal Arab homes are allowed to stand across the country..." the soldier said.
"We are willing to die fighting for the security for Israel," he added, but not for "personal political purposes."
National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari commented that "it's time to realize that this is not just an individual phenomenon -- that Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] and [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak have offered the soldiers a hard dilemma. IDF soldiers must deal with the expulsion of Jews."
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Thursday in a broadcast interview on Voice of Israel government radio that if necessary, the army would do without hesder yeshivot "in order to avoid crushing the military." Vilnai blamed "a handful of rabbis from the hesder yeshivot who call for refusal" for the protests.