Israel Defense Forces combat soldier Shimon Weisman was stunned Monday as he arrived at the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad and saw the ruins of what used to be his home. "I will not return to the army until I rebuild my house," he declared in a special press conference several hours later.
Weisman's home was one of three structures demolished during a violent clash between settlers and police officers.
Weisman, a Kfir Brigade fighter, arrived in the area after Civil Administration bulldozers had already left. He was given special leave from the army after being informed that his house was demolished. For several minutes he stood in his uniform and observed the rubble, shocked.
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika stood next to the IDF fighter and embraced him. Weisman's associates said he had told Mesika with tears in his eyes, "Even in my worst nightmares I never imagined that while I was putting my life at risk in order to defend the homeland, policemen and soldiers would sneak in and destroy my house."
Picking up the pieces at Havat Gilad (Photo: Gur Dotan)
Several hours later, Weisman held a press conference with extreme right-wing activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel.
"I am a combat soldier from the Kfir Brigade," he said. "I made an effort to serve in the IDF in order to defend the people of Israel.
While I was doing that, the IDF sent forces to destroy my house and shoot at my friends. I hereby declare that I will not return the army until I rebuild my home."
In the past four months, Weisman has been serving in the brigade's Netzah Yehuda Battalion, which is comprised of religious soldiers.
"At first they didn't even want to draft him," one of his friends said. "They told him he wasn't fit for it, but Shimon wouldn't give up and became a combat soldier. His brother was an officer and he was raised on values of taking risks to defend the homeland."
Shock after demolition (Photo: Gur Dotan)
Weisman was informed that his home was demolished and that some of his friends were arrested or injured as he was making his way to his base.
"It's ironic, because many of his friends told him there was no use in enlisting," his friend said. "They tried to convince him that what he was doing was contributing to an organization acting against us, but he insisted, saying that it was his duty and that this state belongs to all of us, not just to those living in central Israel."
The friend went on to explain Weisman's storm of emotions as he watched the ruins of his house. "It's a different feeling when you're a soldier in uniform representing a certain body, which is basically responsible for your house being demolished and for your friends being injured.
"So he mostly felt ashamed to be wearing the uniform and ashamed at the body he represents and of the fact that he even agreed to serve in the army. He simply never believed that this would happen to him, especially because of his fight against all those who told him not to enlist."
Asked how the incident would affect Weisman's motivation to serve in the IDF, the friend responded: "Only time will tell. Right now he just needs time to pick up the pieces, not just of his home but also those in his heart."
The IDF Spokesperson's Office said in response that it viewed Weisman's refusal to return to military service as "extremely serious".
"The IDF does not choose its missions and expects its soldiers not to mix political issues with their service," the army said in a statement.