The Defense Ministry and the IDF responded Thursday to a petition filed with the High Court of Justice by a number of Har Bracha Yeshiva students against the exclusion of their school from the agreement with the IDF.
Studies conducted by the military show that students at Har Bracha have been told by its leader, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, to refuse orders that do not match his political beliefs, the response says.
But the 63 petitioners say the IDF is resorting to collective punishment by canceling the agreement with their school. They say they are "law-abiding citizens of the State who are not involved in the halachic rhetoric that surrounds the affair".
As such, they see themselves as an innocent third party, and object to having been hurt by the conflict between Melamed and the Defense Ministry and forced to pay "a heavy price".
The ministry and the army said in a joint response that they value the hesder yeshivas and their commitment to the state's security. "The hesder yeshivas allow the IDF to take a central role in defending the State of Israel and its citizens," it says.
However, the response adds, Rabbi Melamed has crossed a number of red lines in refusing to accept the army's rule.
"The decision made on the matter of the Har Bracha Yeshiva sends a clear, sharp, and forceful message that the rabbi of a yeshiva cannot weaken the principle of obedience, harm the IDF, mock its commanders and support insubordination, and refuse to apologize and clarify his position when given the opportunity to do so – all while enjoying the privileges and benefits awarded by the IDF to yeshivas recognized as hesder yeshivas," the response says.
"The IDF recognizes that Israeli society is a pluralist society, and makes efforts to allow for the differences within the official boundaries to which it is committed," it adds.
"Rabbi Melamed's conduct has crossed official boundaries in a manner that forced the IDF and the defense minister to make a clear and determined decision."
Regarding political protests by soldiers refusing to evacuate settlements the response says, "The IDF cannot put up with a situation in which soldiers do not see themselves as totally and clearly subject to the army's rule and the rule of their commanders, and also cannot accept political protests by soldiers, which undermine the IDF as the 'army of the people'."