A deputy battalion commander in the IDF reserves sent a letter containing his military rank and officer's ID to the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday in protest of the committee's decision to recommend the Tal Law be extended by an additional five years.
The law allows strictly-Orthodox religious students to postpone their military service. Capt. (res) Gil Bickel serves as a battalion deputy commander in the IDF reserves and has so far served over a month's time during this year alone.
A reservist for over 16 years, Bickel said the decision to send his ranks to committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi was an extremely difficult one.
"I am handing in my ranks and ID to make it clear to you all that I have no intention of being the nation's sucker. I won't serve in the reserves any longer and if I am called up, I would rather be locked up," wrote the 37-year-old Bickel.
"Your vote indicates that there is no longer room for equality in shouldering the burden, especially during a year like this one, which has been especially difficult for the reserves. At such a time when we are under constant threat of another war, your vote is testimony to your lack of respect for reserve soldiers," he wrote.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, said on Wednesday that due to the army's attempts to improve itself after the Second Lebanon War the reserves have been heavily burdened. Kaplinsky said that next year would also see reservists contributing many days to training and service.
Bickel said that since the beginning of 2007 he has already spent more than a month in service: "Maybe people think it's easy and fun to do reserve duty, but it's not. It's physically demanding, it's difficult for my wife and family and I've almost lost my job several times because of it… But hardest of all is the fact that so many citizens shirk their service, without any justification and without any consideration from the military in terms of distributing the load equally."
Bickel told Ynet that his decision was not rash and that he has spent many years working with various organizations for reserve soldiers. He has also appeared before the Knesset in related sessions. But when
he saw that nothing had changed and that the Tal Law may be renewed during a year that has been so difficult for the reserves – he decided he must take serious action.
"This loss of values," Bickel wrote to the committee, "has made you unfit to even shine the shoes of the last soldier in my battalion. You should be ashamed of yourselves."