This past week in Israel, Israeli soldiers from elite Israeli army units erected huge signs on their barracks which proclaimed they would refuse orders to remove Jewish communities, if ordered to do so.

These soldiers were arrested and thrown into jail. The families of the soldiers expressed solid support for their sons, telling the Israeli media that an order to expel people from their homes and communities is both illegal and immoral and must be disobeyed.

The momentum behind these new protests emanates from a February 20, 2005 decision of the Israeli government to redraw the map of Jewish residency in the areas that Israel acquired in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

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In August 2005, in the first stage of implementing this new map, Israel dispatched elite soldiers from its own Israel Defense Forces, the IDF, to forcibly remove the residents from 21 thriving Jewish communities in the Katif district of Gaza, along with 4 Jewish communities in Northern Samaria.

The new maps means that an additional 63 Jewish communities may now be expelled in their entirety by the IDF. These communities are spread throughout Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, demarcated on the National Geographic Atlas as the “west bank”, alluding to the west bank of the Jordan River..

Now, with negotiations intensifying, and with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu clamping down an almost total freeze on Jewish building starts in all areas of Samaria, Judea, Hebron and the Jordan Valley, rumors abound that Israel is about to order the IDF to complete the February 20, 2005 Israel government decision to expel Jewish residents of these 63 Jewish communities.

However, Israeli law allows a soldier to refuse an order if that soldier deems the order to run against the grain of the conscience and moral code of the soldier.

Israel is the one nation that apply the letter and the lesson of the legal and moral code that emerged from the Nuremberg Trials, which established the principle that a soldier cannot just say that he was following orders, if these orders are illegal and immoral.

Two sharp precedents loom on the horizon where the Nuremberg principles were indeed applied in Israel.

The first was a 1956 incident in the Israeli Arab village of Kfar Kassam, which occurred while Israeli troops were engaged in full scale combat with Egypt. A curfew had been clamped on the village. A truckload of Kfar Kassam villagers violated the curfew, returning from war after dark. The IDF local commander gave an order to shoot the curfew breakers. More than fifty villagers were shot to death by IDF troops. The Central IDF Command determined that the IDF officer who had given this order had issued an illegal an immoral order. Every IDF soldier involved in the operation, down to the lowest private, was indicted by the IDF court and charged with carrying out an illegal and immoral order, in what came to be known as the Kfar Kassam massacre legal precedent.

The second precedent can be ascribed to activism of the Israeli writer, Amos Kennan, who passed away this past August at the age of 82..

Kennan served as a reservist in an IDF unit, north of Jerusalem. following the 1967 war. A senior IDF officer gave an order to demolish some of the Arab villages in the Latrun area where his unit was based. Kennan refused the order. Facing possible court martial, he went one step further, and

galvanized support from all walks of Israeli life in opposition to this order, and the order was reversed.

Writing in the October 1968 issue of Midstream Magazine, publication of the World Zionist Organization, Kennan wrote a seminal piece entitled A LETTER TO ALL GOOD PEOPLE, in which Kennan related that “the action that I undertook was in flagrant violation of any military law. According to military regulations I should have been court-martialed. I have not diea what would have been the sentence of a Red Army soldier were he to violate national and military discipline in such a manner…”

After the village demolition orders were rescinded by the IDF, Kennan added in the piece that he asked for and received permission from the IDF to visit every area that Israel acquired after the 1967 war, to make sure that no orders like that would ever be issued again.

In passionate support of Kennan’s assertion that Israel cannot demolish communities, Prof. Eliav Schochetman, Dean of the Shaari Mishpat Law College in Israel, testified in 2005 at Israel’s Knesset Parliament Law Committee that any decision of Israel to demolish Arab or Jewish communities would represent a clear “human rights infraction “ which violates Israel’s own “Basic Human Rights Law” which oversees Israeli democratic institutions in matters of human rights and civil liberties, in the same way that the US Bill of Rights ensures that the US government can never trample on the human rights and civil liberties of American citizens.

In his testimony, Schochetman noted that this Israeli government decision to demolish Jewish communities, because of its new map, represented a blatant violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all democratic governments are adherents.

Schochetmen added that Israel’s decision to expel entire communities also represented a violation of international human rights law.

Prof. Schochetman cited clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which mandates that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their own citizens and ethnic minorities from their homes, from their private properties or from their farms. Since the only group that Israel now slates for expulsion are Jews, it should be recalled that the government of Serbia was held liable for international prosecution at the International High Court of Justice in the Hague, under the charge of “ethnic cleansing”, after leaders of Serbia singled out one ethnic minority for expulsion, solely because of their religion.

Prof. Schochetman also recalled clauses in the San Remo Treaty that was ratified by the League of Nations in 1923 and ratified by the new United Nations in 1945 which provided international recognition of the right of Jews to purchase and dwell in the “Jewish Homeland”, defined by both international bodies as any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River.

After Schochetman’s testimony at the Knesset, the Knesset Law Committee could not find a single law professor in Israel who could or would contradict Schochetman’s assessment of the Israeli government’s intention to destroy and exile entire communities would indeed represent a massive human rights violation

That is why the claim of some Israeli soldiers that an order to expel entire communities would present them with an illegal and immoral order that must be disobeyed.


  1. I believe the 3rd last paragraph of your article ,"Why IDF Soldiers Resist Orders To Demolish Communities" is incorrect. Instead of – – – – "any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River", it should read, any land in western Palestine, stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

  2. Thank G-d for Professor Schochetman and for the IDF soldiers who disobey these illegal
    and immoral orders to expel Jews from their homes.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.