Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has ordered IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to immediately halt all volunteer programs for IDF soldiers in illegal immigrant communities in south Tel Aviv, Yediot Ahronot reported Sunday morning.
According to the report, the Defense Minister met last week with the IDF Chief of Staff in closed-door talks regarding the volunteer programs. Liberman reportedly told Eizenkot volunteer work by an official government body was inappropriate, saying “If soldiers have spare time, they should be helping Holocaust survivors or the poor, following the principle that ‘those in need who are closest to you should come first’.”
Liberman’s directive for the IDF came following a protest last week organized by the “Hebrew City” organization, which has pushed for deportation of illegal immigrants and the enforcement of Israeli law in neighborhoods now dominated by such immigrants.
“This is one of the most objectionable things [being done] in the IDF and in the State of Israel,” said May Golan, chairwoman of Hebrew City.
“When the IDF takes such a position on this issue, their mistake is so painful. The IDF is a state organization – and ethical one – which is supposed to protect the law and the State of Israel, but by volunteering with the children of [illegal] foreign workers, the [army] is effectively whitewashing the infiltrators’ crimes. When I saw soldiers volunteering with [illegal immigrant] children, I felt betrayed. This is a political issue that the IDF should not get involved in.”
Immediately following last week’s protest by Hebrew City, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan announced the ministry would examine the issue.
Liberman’s decision to shut down the volunteer program comes after Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed his support for it.
“It is no sin for IDF soldiers to render assistance to helpless children refugees.”