Backed by rabbis and far-right MPs, about one-dozen Israeli soldiers are refusing to take part in a forced removal of settlers from two houses in the West Bank flashpoint town of Hebron, the army said Monday.

The soldiers are among some 3,000 troops and border police due Tuesday to remove two families who for months have illegally squatted inside two houses in Hebron’s wholesale market.

The mutinous soldiers, most of them religious, have told their commanding officers that they will refuse to join in the operation to evacuate the Hebron market, the army said in a statement.

“A number of soldiers from the Kfir regiment training base protested before their commanders this morning over the task they had been given,” it said.

The head of the central army command General Gadi Shamni ordered the court martial of “two company commanders and some 10 soldiers, who will be removed from their unit,” the army said in another statement. “This is a dangerous phenomenon that threatens the very basis of the army being the people’s army in a democratic state,” Shamni was quoted as saying.

“There is only one commanding authority in the army and its soldiers are not allowed to choose their tasks, as tough as they might be,” the statement said.

The army initially said that some 30 soldiers had refused to take part in the forced removal.

The father of one of the troops, Moshe Rosenfeld, told army radio that “dismantling Jewish colonies is not part of the missions that my son is supposed to be doing.

“He has trained to become an elite sniper, carry out operations, but he has not been educated to expel his brothers and he will not do so,” he said.


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