The latest decision may hint at the approach the army is likely to adopt when faced with similar questions, as a navy officer who previously refused to participate in a disengagement drill was also spared harsh treatment, after the IDF originally sentenced him to 28 days in a military jail.
Earlier, it was reported that a captain in the IDF Technology and Logistics Branch was interrogated by Military Police Tuesday for refusing to take part in a disengagement drill.
Another officer and a non-commissioned officer also refused. The junior officer, a sergeant first-class, asked to think over participating in the exercise, while the lieutenant simply left the base and is considered AWOL.
The captain was not arrested because he told his police interrogators he would participate in other jobs within the larger mission of disengagement.
A senior officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps told Ynet, “We see conscientious objection as a dangerous phenomenon that is liable to rip apart Israeli society. To prevent this I have established a severe policy regarding the subject.”
The incident comes just two days after a report on a similar incident involving a Navy non-commissioned officer who, at the last moment, was not given a 28-day prison sentence despite refusing to take part in a pullout drill.
Time to think
The officers and the NCO from the IDF Technology and Logistics Branch were called Tuesday morning to take part in a preliminary drill that would cover different disengagement-related roles.
However, the soldiers refused to participate.
The NCO asked for “time to think about it,” and his commanders gave him 24 hours to make up his mind. The lieutenant simply left the base and, according to another officer in his unit, has not spoken with any of his commanders since.
The third soldier, also a captain, wrote a letter to his officers saying it was inappropriate for the IDF to take part in such a mission, and that settlers must be protected rather than removed.
Possible courts martial
Up to now, most cases of military refusal ended with simple disciplinary measures. But now, the army’s chief prosecutor, Col. Liron Leibman, said he would open an investigation as a preliminary step to a court martial. If convicted of refusing orders the officers could be being stripped of their rank and punished severely.
A senior officer in the military prosecutors corps told Ynet the IDF plans to differentiate between enlisted and career soldiers. He said the corps would judge each case on its individual merits, but will push for a court martial in refusal cases involving career officer or non-commissioned officers.