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An officer who objected to a mission on the cease-fire eve released from detention
Translations from various Israeli media by Adam Keller. [Editor`s comment (VB) We do not share the beliefs of this officer. However we thought that the readers may find the following article of interest.]

By Goel Beno
Yediot Aharonot Aug. 16, 2006
Translation by Adam Keller


`Mothers of Adam`s soldiers called me and said: `Nona, your son saved
out children from death. We want to thank him, and to thank you for
the way you educated him` said yesterday Non Kima, mother of the
combat engineering reserve Lieutenant Adam Kima, suspected of
disobeying an order a few hours before the Lebanon cease-fire came
into effect. On the night between Sunday and Monday this week [Aug.
13-14] Kima, commander of the patrol platoon in an engineering company
of an armoured battalion, got the order to continue with his soldiers
the blazing of a trail in the Bint Jbeil region of south Lebanon. When
it came to the last kilometre and half, Kima told his superiors that
he would not continue the work for lack of fitting conditions, and
especially because he was worried about endangering his soldiers`
lives due to intelligence reports of terrorist ambushes in the
terrain. Immediately after crossing back into Israel with his unit,
Kima was arrested and taken to 48-hour detention at Military Prison 6.
Five of his soldiers, who had refused to join the mission assigned,
were subjected to disciplinary proceedings by the battalion commander
and sentenced to 14 or 21 days each. Yesterday, however - even before
the scheduled proceeding at the Haifa Court Marital where Kima was to
be remanded in custody - the Army`s Judge-Advocate General declared
his decision to release Kima and halt any further judicial proceedings
against him. Concurrently, the five soldiers were also set free. `The
most humiliating moment` says the mother `was to see Adam handcuffed.
My son, who in Gaza fought terrorists face to face, a responsible
officer who cared about the lives of his soldiers and made sure they
would not be harmed! And they take such a man handcuffed to detention?
I could not believe my eyes` told the exited mother. Adam, a student
of computer science and business administration, lives in Tel-Aviv,
his parents - at Kibbutz Sa`ar. Adv. Gil Dahoach, Kima`s lawyer, said
that `he is one of the bravest officers. He got a commendation from
the General Commanding South for bravery during a direct encounter
with terrorists at Rafah. He is a brave and responsible officer, who
by making his position known saved the lives of his 40 soldiers. This
could have been another lethal blow to our forces in the very last
hours of the fighting.` On leaving detention, Adam Kima said: `I have
risked myself for the country, and I will continue to to do it. I was
very hurt by the way me and my soldiers were presented.`

===================================================

Ha`aretz, Aug. 18
By Amir Zohar

An officer who objected to a mission on the cease-fire eve released
from detention

Lieutenant Adam Kima, who objected to carrying out a mission in
Lebanon on the night before the cease-fire, was released from
detention by order of the Judge-Advocate General, General Avichai
Mandelblitt. Kima (26), from Migdal Ha`emek, is part of a reserve
combat engineering battalion. The patrol platoon which he commands
safeguarded last week the blazing of a route to Bint Jbeil. About 12
hours before the cease-fire came into effect, his unit was required to
complete the last part. In the end , the mission was cancelled but the
battalion commander sentenced five soldiers to terms of 14 to 21 days.
Kima refused to be judged by him and demanded to be court- martialled.
The Army Spokesman`s office reacted: `Investigation by the Military
Police Investigative Branch showed that `the soldiers and the officer
did not understand that they had gotten an order, disobedience of
which constitutes an offence. (...) It was decided to cancel the
disciplinary punishment imposed on the five soldiers, and discontinue
court-martial proceedings against the officer`.

=================================================

Yediot Aharonot, Aug 18

By Goel Benno

The `refuser` talks: `The confidence we had in our commanders is
broken`

`I was educated in another army, on values which I was ready to fight
for. The senior officers who taught me what I know about being an
officer held a cardinal rule: if you are not ready for a mission,
just don`t undertake it. But now it was not like this, not in this
war. Ben Gurion once said: `Let every Hebrew mother know that her
soldier son is in the hands of worthy officers`. In this war, all this
was smashed to pieces.` These sharp things were said yesterday by
Reserve Lieutenant Adam Kima, the combat engineering officer suspected
of refusing an order in Lebanon a few hours before the cease-fire went
into effect. (...) The impression which Kima has, at the end of the
war, is quite bitter:`In Gaza, I have served under first-rate
commanding officers. We could be sure that whatever happens, our
superiors will do everything in their power, in the best professional
way, to extract us alive. Things were not like this in Lebanon. The
basic values of command, that an officer should not call out
`Forward!` but always `After me!`, should never send soldiers to risks
he does not take himself, was broken. The confidence which a soldier
has in his superiors was smashed`. Nevertheless, Adam makes clear that
`When the next war comes I will volunteer to take part in it, I have
no doubt of that`.

==============================================

Partial transcript of interview on Kol Yisrael Radio, Aug. 18, 10.00
am. It was part of the radio talk show Hakol Diburim (It`s All Words)
of the well-known presentator Gabi Gazit. Interviewers include Gazit
himself and Kol Yisrarel Military Correspondent Carmela Menashe, who
was the first to expose the whole Kima affair to the public.

(...) The earlier tasks I had no question about. The trails which we
were called upon to blaze were needed in order to evacuate wounded
soldiers and bring them to hospital, and to bring logistics supplies
to the fighting troops who were suffering from a severe lack of food
and water. No question that it was a vital mission and we tried to do
it as best we could, the risks were commensurate with the results. We
already had one casualty, fortunately not killed but severely wounded
from `friendly fire`. I wanted very much to keep this as the sum total
of our platoon`s casualties in this war, and itlooked like Iwould
succeed. It was night on Sunday, with the cease-fire due at 8.00 on
Monday morning, just a few hours away.Then came this new mission -
blaze another kilometre and half, to connect two existing blazed
trails. I looked at it, and it looked bad. Very bad. Gazit: Can you
explain exactly what does `blazing a trail` mean? I am not sure all
our listeners understand. Kima: Well, you know that it is very
dangerous for tanks and other heavy armoured vehicles in Lebanon. The
Hizbullah mined all the roads with heavy explosive charges. They also
studied the terrain and found where the tanks are likely to move if
they don`t use the roads, and they put charges there, too. So we, the
engineers, have to clear the trails, create the conditions for the D-9
bulldozers to move in an clear a safe route for the tanks and armoured
personnel carriers. So, anyway, the Battalion Commander said: OK, this
is your assignment, move out on the double. It has to be ready before
sunrise, it is just a question of a kilometre and half. But we had the
Intelligence assessment which said the area was saturated with
terrorists, that they were dug in on hill tops from which they could
range exactly the places where we had to work. I got the feeling that
we had to drive the new trail right through a `Nature Reserve`.
[Note: `Nature Reserve` is a new soldiers` slang which developed in
the present Lebanon War, meaning a hilly area where a considerable
Hizbullah force is dug in in carefully-prepared positions camouflaged
among thick vegetation. A.K.] I said that for this we needed more
equipment, more artillery cover. I felt that I could be more insistent
because this time there were no soldiers direcly dependant on this new
route which we were to create, that the needs of logistics and
evacuating the wounded were already reasonalbly cpovered by the
existing safe trails. It was a matter of connecting two existing
trails. Of course better to have them connecting them is better, but
they could function quite well without this connection. This was not
quite a vital mission, and there was the very real possibility of
losing many soldiers while doing it. So, I said again and again, this
does not look good, we are likely to get into an anti-tank ambush, we
can have many losses. The other field officers who were there backed
up this assessment. I was educated by superiors who send soldiers on
possible missions - sure, they can be dangerous and difficult, but
possible. That your superiors don`t just demand the impossible...
Menashe: I see Adam is not going to say it himself, so let me tell the
listeners that he and his soldiers were commended for bravery, not so
long ago. Kima: This is true, but it is not relevant one way or
another to what happened in Lebanon. As I said, we had this Officers`
Meeting and I was pointing out the Intelligence assessment and our
faulty equipment... (silence) Gazit: We seem to have lost contact with
Lieutenant Adam Kima. Until our technicians resume contact, I will put
on the line Orna Nachmias, the mother of Gal - one of Adam`s soldiers.
Hello, Orna. Did you hear my conversation with Adam? Nachmias: I sure
did. He and Gal are together right now, they are visiting their
wounded comrade in the hospital. Gal was in prison from Monday until
Thursday, when they decided not to court-martial Adam they immediately
released him too. The army understood they had made a mistake, they
released all of them. I want to thank Adam Kima from all my heart, he
saved Gal and all the other soldiers, the soldiers of his own platoon
and also of the other armoured platoons. He saved them all, we will be
grateful to him for the rest of our lives! This country needs more
officers like him. Gazit: We renewed the contact with Adam Kima. Orna,
he can hear you now. Do you want to tell him something? Nachmias: Oh,
hello Adam! We all love you, we are very proud of you! Gazit: Thank
you, Orna. Now, Adam - before we were cut off I wanted to ask you
about the dilemma which you faced that night, as an officer. The
situation of an officer who comes to the war and gets a mission which
was designated by his superiors and says no, the price is too high. it
must be a difficult moment for a commander of soldiers to do this.
Kima: Now, the Intelligence assessment was very clear. And we knew
that Hizbullah was going to do their worst that night, esepcially that
night they were going to shoot and shoot at any taget they get, until
the moment of the cease-fire itslef. You inside Israel felt that with
the Katyusha rockets, they shot a record number. So the situation was
clear. The only problem was that somebody in the high echelons got
this Intelligence assessment, got it and then just shoved it aside.
Somebody just did not understand the situation on the ground, these
Hizbullah people in the well-dug camouflaged positionsand what it
could mean to our troops. And they didn`t take into account how faulty
was the equipment they have given us. All these past years they have
kept cutting the defence budgets and especially the budgets of the
reserves. They gave us second-rate, obsolete equipment, and then they
asked us to carry out a mission which absolutely needed the best and
most advanced equipment and would have difficult even then. Menashe:I
already had contact with this unit before this affair. Some of the
soldiers called me and told me that they had no night-vision
equipment. That is in fact the reason why this earlier case of the
soldier wounded from friendly fire happened. Gazit: Adam, I
understood when I talked with you before that there was the moment
when the battalion commander assembled the soldiers and asked who was
ready to go on this mission and who was not, and five raised their
hands to say they were not ready. Kima: Yes, that`s the way it was.
But you should remember that asking if you are ready can mean two
things. It can mean asking if you are willing to go, but it can also
mean simply asking if you are ready, if you have the equipment and
conditions necessary to carry out this mission. And if you know that
you don`t have the equipment and conditions and you say you are not
ready, you are simply stating an objective fact. Gazit: But I still
don`t understand on what basis did you claim that all this was not a
disobedience of an order? And how did you convince the people of the
Judge-Advocate General that this was indeed so? Kima: Because this was
not yet the stage of giving orders. It was the stage of the Officers`
Discussion. In this stage, when a superior tells you that your mission
is so and so and you say no, this does not count as disobeying an
order. Gazit: Is this something new? I don`t remember this institution
of an Officers` Discussion from my time in the army. Kima: I don`t
know when it began. It was always there, for as long as I am an
officer. Gazit: But still you were arrested and told that that was for
disobeying an order. Kima: Yes, I was arrested, and it was wrong. It
was taking the Officers` Discussion to a direction which it is not
meant to go. Gazit: But if he had given you an order, if he would have
said the explicit words `I am giving you now a direct order, take your
men and go on this mission!`. What would you have done? Kima: I
thought very much about that. In that case I would have had no
choice, I would have gone on the mission. I think I would have done it
while whispering `God, have mercy on us, God, have mercy on us`. I am
not religious, but in such a situation you need whatever help you can
get. But it did not get to that. When he saw at the Officers`
Discussion how things stood, that we did not budge, that we reiterated
again and again that the force was not ready, he just said very coldly
`Very well, you will hear from me later` and went out. What made it
worse was that he was not intending to go with us, he was going to
stay at HQ and watch the progress of the operation on his computer
screen. I have known some commanding officers of the same rank and
even higher who went on dangerous missions at the head of the forces
they sent out. They told me that the loss in having a centralized
control is more than compensated by the morale of the men, who know
the commander is not sending them to risks he does not take himself.
But not this commander. Gazit: You also told him you did not want to
have to face the families of dead soldiers. Kima: Yes, I did. It was
difficult enough already to have to tell parents, just a week before,
that their son was severely wounded from friendly fire. Especially
because he is personal friend and I have personally gotten him into
this unit. I did not want any more of that, believe me I didn`t.
Gazit: So,you were arrested and then you asked for a court martial.
Kima: Yes, I did.I knew a court martial could hand me an enormous
punishment, but I felt I had nothing to hide and nothing to feel
guilty or ashamed about. I wanted to speak out and tell the whole
country exactly what happened that night. And actually it did not get
to the court. The military police were OK, they wrote down everything
and I said that this was a crazy mission and whoknows how many would
have paid with their lives and it was not worth it. That I was glad
this mission was prevented, but if there is another war sure I will
come to serve my country as I always did. And my former commanding
officers from the Gaza days were very furious when they heard, they
immediately started phoning everybody they could reach in the high
command and said thay knew me and that it was crazy to arrest me. They
pulled all the ropes they could. Nachmias: Am I still on the line?
Gal, my son, asked that when I speak on the radio to also thank these
officers for standing up for Adam. These officers understood that this
is not refusal and Adam and Gal and the reset of them were not
refusers, not left wing refusers and not right wing refusers. They are
just patriotic soldiers who are much more professional than their
superiors. Gazit: Thank you all.

VB
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