The refusal of religious soldiers to participate in the forcible evacuation of two Jewish families from the Hebron market place on Tuesday has led to heated public debate on the issue of refusing orders, but while most condemn the move, there are also those who commend it.
"The people of Israel strengthen and support the soldiers who obeyed the laws of the Torah and refused to carry out the criminal order to expel Jews from the City of the Patriarchs – Hebron," proclaimed a leaflet to be distributed by the SOS Israel organization this weekend.
"These soldiers are worthy of being written up in gold in the history of the people of Israel as heroes of Israel. With your actions you shall save the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria and save the people of Israel from all who seek to destroy it."
Leaflet prepared by SOS Israel, text reads - 'That excel in strength, that do his commandments' (Psalms 103:20)
Some 200,000 leaflets have been prepared to support the 12 soldiers, yeshiva students in military service, who stood disciplinary trial for their insubordination and were sentenced to 14-28 days imprisonment.
But beyond the leaflet campaign, the SOS Israel rabbinical board issued an edict forbidding soldiers from carrying out similar orders. A giant rally is planned in support of the refuseniks and they will be awarded citations of distinction and certificates signed by rabbis and public figures proclaiming them 'Heroes of Israel.'
The punishment given to most of the soldiers – 28 days imprisonment – is the maximum sentence a brigade commander, who holds the rank of Lt. Col., has the authority to give.
Military sources have said that beyond the decision to imprison the soldiers and suspend them from combat duty, the army will also consider canceling the program that allows them to serve only 18 months and extend their service to the full three years Israeli men are required to serve in uniform.
The final decision will be made after consultations with Maj-Gen. Elazar Stern, head of the IDF's Personnel Directorate.