"They are inciting the public to think that the rabbis are endangering the army, but senior defense officials, who allow the army to be dragged into political debates, are the ones truly endangering the army."
The rabbi called Barak's accusations "a blood libel which may promote him politically but is destroying the IDF, destroying our unity, and tearing apart the state's democratic foundations".
"All of the arguments with the defense minister are about issues totally unrelated to security operations but rather have to do with commanding soldiers to act against their own people," he said.
In his defense Rabbi Melamed said he had encouraged his students to participate in the Second Lebanon War, telling them it was a halachic duty, despite his belief that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "busied himself for almost two years with the task of evicting Jews", and for this reason could not obtain victory.
"Across generations rabbis were required to tell the truth and were even commanded to do so by the Torah," Melamed said.
"Can a rabbi not think and speak honestly even in the democratic State of Israel? Should his students be disqualified from army service because he expresses his opinion according to his halachic conscience? Is this the defense minister's responsibility?"
Netanyahu: I won't intervene
Earlier the Prime Minister's Office published a statement saying that Benjamin Netanyahu would not intervene in the spat between Melamed and Barak.
"The prime minister's staunch stance against insubordination is known to all," the statement said. "The prime minister will not intervene in the issue of the Har Bracha yeshiva, and supports Barak's decision. However he hopes that the matter will eventually be solved with understanding."
However efforts to resolve the conflict in a peaceful manner continue. Coalition chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) met with Rabbi Haim Druckman, of the heads of the Union of Hesder Yeshivas, at the rabbi's home.
Elkin suggested Netanyahu meet with the rabbis who head the yeshivas in order to find a solution, and assumed that the prime minister would agree to intervene despite the statement published Monday.
On Sunday Barak decided to remove the Har Bracha yeshiva from its arrangement with the army. The decision was made after Melamed refused to attend a hearing scheduled for Sunday evening at the Defense Ministry.
Harsh criticism from the Right was immediately forthcoming. Extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel said that "the Barak and the Netanyahu government has declared a war on God, his Torah and his land."
He added that "the gloves must be taken off and a war must be launched against this hostile regime, because we are all Har Bracha. Barak will dismantle the IDF."