Barak: We Must Crush IDF Refusal With an Iron Fist

Defense Min. set to meet with officials to discuss steps to take against people who encourage refusal.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated on Saturday his pledge to crack down on Israel Defense Forces soldiers who refuse to carry out orders, saying Israel should not hesitate to act forcefully to crush the phenomenon.

"A country that wishes to live must put an end to refusal by the right and left with an iron fist," said Barak in a closed meeting.

According to a statement his bureau released, the defense minister is expected to hold a number of meetings in the coming days with law enforcement and intelligence officials. During the talks, he will decide on how to treat those who incite and encourage refusal among soldiers, the statement said.

Barak's comments echoed remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who warned on Tuesday that such refusal would contribute to the collapse of the State of Israel.

Both leaders attacked the phenomenon in the wake of a number of incidents involving IDF soldiers protesting their units' task of evacuating unauthorized West Bank outpost, marking a shift in right-wing activity from attacks on Palestinians to protest in army ranks.

On Wednesday, Barak said he would seek to combat refusal without cutting government funding to yeshivas.

"If it is possible to straighten this out without closing the taps in hesder yeshivas, that would be better," Barak said, referring to the Jewish seminaries that combine religious studies with military service.