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Photo: Shaul Golan
Not the thought police: Stern
Photo: Shaul Golan
Photo: Gilad Kawalarchik
Removed from debate: Eitam
Photo: Gilad Kawalarchik
IDF: 63 pullout refuseniks
A total of 24 insubordinate troops came from hesder yeshivas; army to consider canceling special arrangement with yeshivas whose heads backed refusal
A total of 63 soldiers refused orders during the disengagement, including 24 troops from hesder yeshivas, Army Chief Dan Halutz told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday.

 

Overall, 50 insubordinate soldiers were regular troops doing their mandatory service, eight were career officers, and another five were reserve soldiers.

 

During a charged discussion, committee members discussed statements by several hesder yeshiva heads and their support for insubordination. IDF Personnel Directorate Head Elazar Stern said two hesder yeshiva heads publicly expressed their support for disobedience.

 

“The defense minister will ask the attorney general to investigate canceling the arrangement with the two yeshivas,” he said.

 

Hesder yeshivas combine Torah studies with military service and allow the students to perform a shortened IDF service of a year and four months, instead of three months.

 

Stormy meeting

 

Tempers flared early on when Committee Chairman Danny Yatom (Labor) demanded Stern reveal the names of hesder rabbis who called on students to refuse orders.

 

MK Effi Eitam (Renewed National Religious Zionism) wasted no time in responding, launching a scathing attack on Yatom and saying Stern had no authority to answer the demand.

 

"It's not his job to be the thought police," he said.

 

After the outburst, Eitam was removed from deliberations by Knesset officers, promting another outburst, this time by MK Arieh Eldad (National Union).

 

Can't abandon the rabbis

 

The two were only readmitted after Shas leader Eli Yishai successfully calmed them down.

 

"We can't abandon the discussion, and leave the rabbis alone to face attacks by Yaton and (Left-wing MK Yossi) Sarid," he said.

 

Returning to the debate, MK Yishai said, "We must not even begin to consider dismantling the hesder yeshivas. They have made a great contribution to the security of this country."

 

Stern responds

 

For his part, Gen. Stern said he greatly respects hesder soldiers , but that the army could not tolerate a situation in which there are two competing authorities.

 

"We must put an end to it," he said.

 

Stern also told the committe that 88 percent of hesder soldiers serve in combat units, and that there are currently about 6,000 hesder students in the IDF.

 

Hesder rabbis Nahum Rabinovich, Eliyahu Bloomzweig, David Stav and Shlomo Rosenfeld also participated in the debate.

 


First published: 07.09.05, 17:53
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