Defense Ministry Tries to Reach Deal With Hesder Yeshiva

IDF chief recommended army sever ties with the Elon Moreh yeshiva after its leader called for refusing orders.

The Defense Ministry is trying to reach a compromise with the Elon Moreh 'hesder yeshiva', which combines military service and torah studies, on the recommendation to cancel the army's arrangement with the yeshiva following the yeshiva leader's call for refusing orders during the August 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

Two months ago Chief of Staff Dan Halutz recommended to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that the arrangement with the Elon Moreh yeshiva be cancelled due to the calls by rabbi Elyakim Levanon to refuse orders.

Recently Mofaz has agreed to forgo canceling the arrangement on condition that rabbi Levanon publish a letter renouncing his calls for refusal and declaring that he will refrain from any such calls in the future.

The yeshiva presented Mofaz with two drafts to the letter, which the defense minister rejected. Mofaz told Levanon that if he fails to come up with an agreeable draft by February 15, he would announce the cancellation of the arrangement with the yeshiva.

Rabbi Levanon was one of the most vehement spokesmen objecting to the disengagements. He was active in refusal initiatives among Israel Defense Forces troops and even told his soldiers openly to refuse orders. Several of them, Givati and armored forces soldiers, followed his calls and served jail sentences.

Levanon was present at the evacuation of the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom while youngsters rioted on the settlement's synagogue roof. IDF officers said the on that day Levanon refused the army's request that he restrain his violent students.

Even after the completion of the disengagement, the Elon Moreh yeshiva has been a flashpoint for clashed with the IDF. In an incident at an outpost near Elon Moreh two weeks ago youngsters attacked the deputy commander of the Samaria brigade, lieutenant colonel Benny Shick.