It has long been controversial for modern Orthodox Jews (or ‘dati leumi’) to serve in the IDF, because it sometimes means that they have to do things that they are not only politically opposed to, but religiously as well. We really saw this in 2005 at Gush Katif and the dismantling of other settlements in the Gaza Strip. Well it still happens.
On Tuesday last week, the IDF decided to punish six soldiers, sending two to prison, for protesting the army’s demolition of structures at an unauthorized settler outpost in the West Bank. The soldiers had hung a banner at an army base in the West Bank in demonstration. This all went down as other soldiers carried out orders to dismantle two Jewish homes in Negohot, near Hebron.
The six soldiers who are being punished, served in the Nahal unit in the West Bank. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insisted that there is no place for such insubordination in the IDF. He was quoted as saying, “If you promote insubordination, you cause the country to fall apart.”
Several Israeli political parties spoke out in support of the soldiers, as did several right-wing rabbis and some have even offered money to the families of troops imprisoned for insubordination.
There have also been cases of troops with left-wing views refusing orders or refusing to serve entirely because they disagree with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
One possible solution is this: Israel might cease to use the IDF for operations against Israeli citizens. And instead police should handle settler issues, while the army patrols the borders.
Meanwhile Hamas is offering a bounty of $1.4 million to anybody who captures an Israeli soldier, adding further fear and tension to conflict.