Shimon Weisman, deserted army
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Havat Gilad homes razed
Photo: Gur Dotan
Soldiers from the Kfir Brigade stood firmly by their colleague who deserted following the destruction of his home in the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad by the Civil Administration.
Two of Shimon Weisman's friends told Ynet they placed loyalty to their rabbi above obeying their commander, and others threatened the brigade commander with mutiny.
The Kfir Brigade has become known for its soldiers' identification with settlers. "We have to ask why such behavior repeats itself in this brigade," one of the soldiers told Ynet.
"We think the brigade commander is behaving with continuous ignorance, which in turn leads to police ignorance in the whole story of Havat Gilad and the treatment of Shimon Weisman." Weisman was found guilty of desertion and jailed.
But the former soldier's friends are now threatening mutiny. "In the past the army knew how to work well with the different populations serving in it and considered their needs. The brigade commander and brass cannot decide that they are going against their soldiers with defiance," one of the soldiers said.
Another soldier said Weisman was "deceitfully" brought to the base and judged before the brigade commander, "who decided ahead of time to dismiss him" from the army. "Many soldiers, not just from our regiment, came to support him and said that if he goes to jail, they follow him," he said.
The soldiers have also published a letter signed by 70 troops, who urge the commander to accept Weisman back into the ranks. "The letter is meant to send the brigade commander a clear message: If he and the other commanders continue with this behavior they will remain alone with no troops," one of the organizers said.
He added that the soldiers were planning a protest Saturday night outside the prison in which Weisman is being held and that they were expecting attendance from throughout Israel. "Lack of confidence between soldiers and the command has reached a critical point," he explained.
Another soldier said commanders were alarmed by the level of support shown for Weisman among their troops. "There were some who asked to help Weisman rebuild his home," he said. However, rabbis advised the two not to break military regulations, he added.
Later the two soldiers were asked whether they are loyal to their commander or their rabbi, and they answered the latter. "Now (the commanders) want to try them or summon them to a talk in order to dismiss them from the regiment as well," the soldier said.
"This behavior must stop. In the end we will all have to announce our support of them and our loyalty to the rabbis," he warned. "The friends of these soldiers have vowed to support them and create chaos if they are dismissed."
- Follow Ynetnews on Facebook