From correspondents in Jerusalem
August 08, 2007 05:28am
Article from: Agence France-Presse
ISRAEL plunged into bitter debate over the source of authority for many of its soldiers overnight after a group of officers and troops refused orders to evacuate hardline Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.
The four hour operation overnight in the flashpoint town of Hebron sparked fiery rhetoric over the future of the Jewish state's army after a dozen soldiers decided to listen to their parents and rabbis, instead of their commanding officers, and refused to participate.
Startlingly, virtually none of the coverage of this significant development mentions the 1956, landmark, Israeli Supreme Court ruling (following the Kfar Qasem massacre):
The Israeli Supreme Court made a new ruling on the right and duty of soldiers to disobey unlawful orders. That ruling has been incorporated into Israeli martial law. On the 43rd anniversary of the incident (1999), Israeli civics teachers were instructed to lead a one-hour discussion on Kafr Kassem in their classes. Israel wants its future soldiers to understand the need to identify and disobey an illegal order in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling.
For a quick grasp of what's going on here, read on:
Many religious soldiers in Israel - whose military service sometimes combines studies at a yeshiva religious school - identify themselves with right-wing national religious ideology and themselves live in settlements.
Although there are no figures on their exact number, they form the backbone of many elite combat units. During the 2005 Gaza pullout, a number of them refused to follow orders to forcibly remove the settlers who refused to leave.
"The Jewish Bible is above the laws of the state of Israel," Rabbi Yishai Babed of the Judea and Samaria, as the West Bank is known in Israel, rabbis' council said.
"Expelling people from their homes contradicts the Bible and therefore the morality overrides any military orders," he said.