The IDF is facing an internal conflict as some soldiers are reportedly refusing to carry out orders to act against the Jewish community in Homesh in Samaria.
It was reported in YNet that an IDF soldier was sent to local Jews attempting to enter the town of Homesh in Samaria.
“This isn’t why I enlisted,” the soldier explained. He was later sent for an “explanatory discussion” on the importance of maintaining discipline.
In another eyewitness account reported in Israel National News, a soldier saw a group of Jewish “settlers” approaching Homesh on foot, passing through the military checkpoint without being asked to show identification. Several soldiers decided to accompany the group to ensure their safety. An officer called out to the soldiers to return, but the soldiers continued, returning after the Jews arrived safely.
In another instance, a soldier was ordered to block off an access route Jews used to reach Homesh. The soldier refused, turning off his jeep’s engine, taking the keys, and leaving the scene.
The IDF responded to an inquiry by Israel National News, saying, “The situation in Judea and Samaria for the soldiers serving there is a complex one demanding an understanding of how to deal with various sectors,” a security official stated. “This is true of many areas, not just of Homesh. All soldiers sent to serve on duty in Judea and Samaria undergo advance preparation.”
The official IDF spokesman’s response noted, “Security force policies related to the evacuated community of Homesh have not changed. The IDF acts and will continue to act according to the policies established by the political echelon.”
Homesh was founded in 1978, but the residents of Homesh were forcefully evicted from their homes and their houses demolished as part of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and four settlements in northern Samaria in August 2005. Many attempts have been made to resettle the community, and the Israeli courts have debated the settlement’s fate since.
After a Palestinian terrorist murdered Homesh yeshiva student Yehuda Dimentman, 25, the state permitted learning to continue at the yeshiva, telling the court that any evacuation after a terror attack made the Palestinians understand that such violence was effective.
Last month, the High Court of Justice ruled on the issue, and while the court did not order the evacuation, it accepted the state’s declaration of intent to evacuate. Jews are forbidden from entering the site, but a makeshift yeshiva has been permitted to exist. Only the students and teaching staff are allowed to enter, and they are the only ones permitted in their cars when traveling to and from the yeshiva.
But even this has proven problematic. Three vehicles belonging to members of the yeshiva administration have had their entrance permits revoked. The staff members claim that they were on their way to Homesh when they saw a group of young women walking near an Arab village. Fearing for their safety, they stopped, and the girls entered the cars. The army stopped them and revoked their permit.
Also, last Friday, just one hour before Shabbat began, the head of the yeshiva and his family drove to Homesh to spend Shabbat with the students. Security forces stopped the car, and the family was told they were not permitted to enter. Torah observant Jews are forbidden from traveling on Shabbat, so the family parked the car and continued on foot.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
“The rule is that a soldier must obey every order (subject to the exception) given him by his commander while fulfilling his duty … The exception is that he need not execute a manifestly illegal order.”
“[U]nder Israeli law … a soldier who has carried out an unlawful order will not be charged with an offense. Only if the order itself is patently unlawful is he required not to perform it, and indeed, under Israeli law, he would have no defense if he did execute it.”
This discipline was tested during the 2005 IDF dismantling of the Jewish communities in Gush Katif. Dozens of soldiers were put on trial for refusing to forcibly remove Jews from their homes and destroy the structures.