The Israeli army’s chief of staff, Dan Halutz, this week approved a series of steps to toughen disciplinary measures against soldiers who refuse orders, ahead of the planned disengagement from some settlements.

The number of soldiers who have refused orders in the preparations for the disengagement is increasing, and it is expected to continue increasing as the real evacuation nears.

Several rabbis, including former chief rabbis, are calling on the soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate settlers from the Gaza Strip and the four northern West Bank settlements.

Among the procedures, religious students who alternate military service and religious studies through the hesder yeshivas will lose this privilege.

This means the soldier will not have the benefit of a 14-month army service, but will have to serve for three full years.

Many hesder yeshivas students are expected to be among the refuseniks.

Meanwhile, the army continues to enforce disciplinary measures against soldiers and officers who previously refused to take part in the preparation stages of the pullout or in closing the Gaza Strip and on those who asked to join the right-wing rally in Kfar Maimon this week.

One army captain has been detained two days ago for refusing to take part in army operations around Kfar Maimon.  He is to appear in front of a judge on Thursday.

The army advocate is mulling presenting a criminal indictment against the captain.  If so, this would be the first refusal case in which a criminal indictment is being seriously considered before a military court.

In addition, two soldiers from a hesder infantry unit who refused to take part in roadblock operations at the Kissufim crossing and hid in the Neveh Dekalim yeshiva were sentenced Wednesday. They received six days of military incarceration for being AWOL for 24 hours. The two will be tried separately for refusing orders.

Wednesday night, the trial of seven of their friends ended. The seven had also refused orders during the Kissufim operation. One was sentenced to 28 days in prison, five others were sentenced to to 24 days, and the seventh soldier was sentenced to two weeks in prison. The officer who tried the last soldier was lenient, because he was convinced the soldier had been ‘dragged along’ by his friends.

In another incident, a soldier, also a hesder student, was dismissed from the Golani brigade and he went AWOL to join protesters in Kfar Maimon.

Although the soldier regretted the act few hours later, the brigade’s commander insisted on his dismissal, but did not sentence him to prison.

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