Peretz's remarks came in response to a petition that was put forth by yeshiva students urging the army to abandon policies of "secular coercion."
- IDF hesder students warn against 'secular coercion'
IDF rabbis: Orders precede Halacha
Haredi soldier will leave IDF over women's singing'
"Loyalty to the IDF should not be trifled with," Peretz told students at Zeitlin High School, a religious institution. "We must be careful with … the State of Israel and the IDF. We should protect it vigilantly."
Yeshiva students and hesder soldiers circulated a petition earlier this month, demanding IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz to reconsider his order to forbid religious troops from leaving official IDF ceremonies that feature women singing.
The youths claimed that "enforcing the attendance of religious soldiers when women are singing is in direct opposition to the Jewish Halacha and is in fact secular coercion, which goes against the principles of liberty, equality and justice in general and the spirit of the IDF particularly."
Perez warned Thursday that recent calls to boycott the army over the policy could have a devastating effect.
"Unfortunately, I have heard many voices coming from amongst our folks, saying 'we won't enlist,' or claiming that the loyalty to the State of Israel is conditional," Peretz said. "Of course, these statements come from a minority, but to my great sorrow, a minority can be destructive if not addressed properly.
"You should enlist," he added. "It's very important. We must be aware that our army is the army of the people."
Yoav Zitun contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop