Ashkenazi talks to troops
Photo: Yaron Brener
IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi responded Sunday to recent behavior by soldiers which the army has deemed insubordinate. "We will not be able to hold together an army in which soldiers do not obey their commanders," he said.
"I suggest we remove the IDF from politics; this is my message to civilian leadership," Ashkenazi said during a speech before new combat recruits in Tel Hashomer recruitment base.
IDF not an auxiliary police force to be used at whim of defense minister
Ashkenazi and members of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee toured the base and spoke to the recruits.
Monday's recruitment had the highest rate of motivation to enlist in combat units within the past few years, with 73.7% of those eligible for combat duty expressing a desire to join the ranks. In comparison, 67.2% of November 2008 enlisters showed the same enthusiasm.
The army chief also criticized recent incidents in which soldiers from the Kfir Brigade protested the evacuation of illegal West Bank settlements.
"There is no room for insubordination and we are not willing to accept such phenomena, from the Left or the Right," he said.
Chairman of the Knesset committee, Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), said the IDF should avoid becoming politicized. "We will have neither country nor army if we make any allowances at all on this issue," he said.
Ashkenazi refused to answer questions about efforts to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and said unofficial reports on the matter were damaging to the work going on behind the scenes.
Regarding Lebanese reports on preparations for an Israeli attack, the army chief said the northern border was calm. "We are following everything done there, just as we are following maneuvers in Iran," he said.
During their tour of the base, MKs were told that despite the current rise in motivation to enlist, residents of central Israel were still showing relatively poor interest in the army.
Residents of kibbutzim and townships were among those with the highest motivation to enlist, according to the army's data. Refusal to enlist by leftists was also shown to be at an all-time low, with just 10 teens stating that they would refuse to serve due to political reasons this year.