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Following war crimes in Lebanon

Revolt inside Israel Defense Forces

Published Mar 11, 2007 10:50 PM

Almost 100 fighters of the Israel Defense Forces’ Battalion 51 of the Golani Brigade walked off the Tze’elim training base in southern Israel on March 1. The action has been described as one of the biggest revolts in IDF history. Eight soldiers from the battalion were killed by Hezbollah resistance fighters in Bint Jbeil, a small village in southern Lebanon, during the Israeli invasion in July 2006.

Golani soldiers have a long history of revolt. Smaller walkouts have occurred in the past. The IDF’s criminal history in occupied Palestine, Lebanon and other countries can only contribute to rebellion by rank-and-file soldiers.

This latest rebellion was led by young soldiers who were fed up with the harsh treatment they have endured at the hands of battalion commander Lt. Col. David Zini. Some of the more experienced soldiers abstained out of fear that the short time left before their discharge would be extended by imprisonment on charges of mutiny. Roadblocks placed by Brigade Commander Col. Tamir Yidai forced the soldiers to return to base.

The primary complaint launched against Lt. Col. Zini was his order denying soldiers the right to meet with psychologists and mental health officers to discuss psychological stresses stemming from their participation in the siege of Bint Jbeil. After the soldiers were forced to turn back, an anonymous high-ranking officer admitted that the complaints were legitimate, and that requests for medical care had been mishandled.

The IDF failed to take the town of Bint Jbeil, and withdrew after several days of bombing civilian targets such as houses and hospitals combined with a large ground invasion.

The residents of Bint Jbeil heroically defended themselves against the civilian atrocities perpetuated by the IDF. Dr. Fuoad Tahar of Bint Jbeil Hospital described intense Israeli attacks that dropped up to 350 bombs on the town in a single half hour.

Given the severity of the suffering inflicted on Bint Jbeil civilians, it is not surprising that IDF soldiers returning from that battle would require professional psychological help. Problems such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder are typical reactions to the brutal realities of war and occupation.

Denying soldiers access to mental-health workers compounds the dehumanization IDF troops experience as a result of their participation in Israel’s genocidal military campaigns.

Zionist leaders inside Israel cannot be pleased to learn that the only thing that prevented the rebellion from spreading throughout the entire battalion was the older soldiers’ fear of imprisonment. Israel already experienced defeat at the hands of the Lebanese people’s resistance led by Hezbollah. This recent display of a lack of loyalty to the IDF and its mission may signify a deeper division inside the Israeli army between superior officers and the subordinate troops they regularly sacrifice in Israel’s 59-year old perpetual war of occupation.