Monday, January 02, 2006

Army chief dismisses 2 Duvdevan soldiers


Chief of Staff Dan Halutz has decided to adopt the recommendations of an investigative committee that called for a crew commander and a sergeant from the elite Duvdevan (Cherry) undercover unit to be dismissed for refusing to take part in a counter-terror operation .

The committee pointed out that two other fighters who refused to take part in the mission did not live up to the norms expected from a soldier in an elite unit, but said they two could continue to serve as infantry soldiers.

The affair was first brought to light by Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

Commenting on the report, Halutz said that "a serious lapse in ethics and authority exists among commanders who stay behind while the rest of the fighters, under their command, go out to battle."

Halutz received a report on Monday that was drawn up by a special investigative committee appointed by the Judea and Samaria Division Commander, Brigadier General Yair Golan, in order to investigate the series of events before, during, and after the operation in question, in the West Bank town of Jenin.

Halutz commended the committee, saying it had done its job in a "comprehensive, high-quality, and professional manner."

The army chief added that "Duvdevan is an elite unit whose fighters are the spearhead in the difficult and ongoing fight by the IDF against Palestinian terrorism. Thanks to this unit, hundreds of risky operations ended successfully, and have helped the citizens of Israel maintain their day to day routine."

The incident in question occurred following a counter-terror operation that encountered difficulties, with troops coming under heavy fire for three hours and only narrowly and miraculously escaping injury.

Following the operation, some soldiers in the force faced heavy mental stress, prompting a commander in the unit to ask the soldiers receive mental help, but to no avail.

Later, before the unit was set to launch another operation, the commander told his superiors his team was not fit to go into battle and that he is unable to take responsibility and lead them into yet another firefight. At that point, the commander and three troops announced they refuse to take part in the operation.