The decision to dismiss from his division a soldier who refused to shake IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz's hand over his role in the pullout shows "immense insensitivity to the emerging rift within Israeli society," settler leader Pinchas Wallerstein said Friday.
According to the decision being formulated, Hananel Dayan, who snubbed Halutz during a ceremony at the President's residence, will be removed from the Barak division, will be unable to hold commanding posts within the IDF, and may have his military distinction revoked.
Meanwhile, Yesha Council officials also blasted the punishment, saying the decision is an "exaggerated, hysterical response that attests to a lack of understanding of the difficulties faced by religious soldiers."
"The move will only deepen the rift in the army and within society," settler leaders said. "We're talking about symbolic protest and the IDF adopts a more forgiving attitude when it comes to drug offences or more serious violations."
Far-right activist Baruch Marzel said he will send flowers to Dayan, who he characterized as a "hero of Israel."
"All IDF soldiers should be learning from him," Marzel said.
Meanwhile, the right-wing Women in Green movement lauded Daya's decision to refrain from shaking the hand of the "commander of the expulsion of Jews and the handing over of homeland regions to the Arab enemy."
Dayan's lawyer already announced that he will petition the High Court of Justice should the decision not be reversed.
"A handshake is not a military order. The soldier followed all the orders he was given and there is no reason to initiate the process against him," attorney Adi Kidar said.