Jonathan Cook has a similar view in his article in the National: "Religious groups are ‘penetrating’ Israeli army".
In it Cook states "Extremist rabbis and their followers, bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics. In a process one military historian has termed the rapid “theologisation” of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the occupied Palestinian territories. Their influence in shaping the army’s goals and methods is starting to be felt, said observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel’s religious extremist population."
Cook also cites Dr. Yigal Levy as saying "We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield."
Cook again: "The new atmosphere was evident in the “excessive force” used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighbourhoods of Gaza were levelled. “When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.”"
I have to point out here though that Dr. Levy is also on record as saying that the "increased sensitivity to casualties gave priority to the use of lethal weapons that do not involve any risk to the troops...The fear of incurring casualties and the consequent curtailing of the army operation ahead of optimal timing led to massive barrages of fire whenever there was a fear of suspected Hamas fighters. This policy increased the extent of civilian casualties," so although the religious element is certainly the most important aspect, we also have the element of cowardice. They want to fight a war with little or no harm to themselves, and its not important how many civilians they massacre.
Back to Cook: "The greater role of extremist religious groups in the army came to light last week when it emerged that the army rabbinate had handed out a booklet to soldiers preparing for the recent 22-day Gaza offensive."
In fact, this came to light before then as this Jerusalem Post article shows: "IDF Rabbinate uses scriptures to boost soldiers' morale", and it wasn't just booklets:
"In what some called the theologizing of warfare and others called a boost to Jewish battle morale, 10,000 MP3s with recorded sermons of encouragement by the chief rabbis of Israel were prepared this week for distribution to combat soldiers - religious and secular, Jewish and gentile - presently serving in Gaza...
The recording of the rabbis and plans for the distribution of the MP3 were organized by the IDF's Jewish Consciousness Field (JCF) [Tchum Toda'ah Yehudit], a division of the IDF's Rabbinate.
An anonymous donor or group of donors provided the IDF with the MP3s free of charge.
In addition to the MP3s, the JCF also distributed to IDF rabbis in the field in Gaza a pamphlet entitled "Jewish Consciousness Emphases for Cast Lead."
In the pamphlet, the IDF rabbis are addressed as "Anointed Priests of War."
Back to Cook again: "Breaking the Silence, a project run by soldiers seeking to expose the army’s behaviour against Palestinians, said the booklet handed out to troops in Gaza had originated among Hebron’s settlers.
“The document has been around since at least 2003,” said Mikhael Manekin, 29, one of the group’s directors and himself religiously observant. “But what is new is that the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.”
The power of the religious right in the army reflected wider social trends inside Israel, Dr Levy said. He pointed out that the rural cooperatives known as kibbutzim that were once home to Israel’s secular middle classes and produced the bulk of its officer corps had been on the wane since the early 1980s.
“The vacuum left by their gradual retreat from the army was filled by religious youngsters and by the children of the settlements. They now dominate in many branches of the army.”
According to figures cited in the Israeli media, more than one-third of all Israel’s combat soldiers are religious, as are more than 40 per cent of those graduating from officer courses.
The army has encouraged this trend by creating some two dozen hesder yeshivas, seminaries in which youths can combine Biblical studies with army service in separate religious units. Many of the yeshivas are based in the West Bank, where students are educated by the settlements’ extremist rabbis.
Ehud Barak, the defence minister, has rapidly expanded the programme, approving four yeshivas, three based in settlements, last summer. Another 10 are reportedly awaiting his approval.
Mr Manekin, however, warned against blaming the violence inflicted on Gaza’s civilians solely on the influence of religious extremists.
“The army is still run by the secular elites in Israel and they have always been reckless with regard to the safety of civilians when they wage war. Jewish nationalism that justifies Palestinian deaths is just as dangerous as religious extremism.”
Yes, I agree. But the real danger comes when the two are combined as we have seen in Gaza!
Other items of interest today include the outing of Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman as a Kahane supporter: "Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman was once a member of the outlawed far-right party Kach, the movement's former secretary general revealed on Tuesday. ..The revelation came one day after Israel's most recognizable television anchor, Haim Yavin, branded Lieberman as "Kahane's successor," a reference to the murdered extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, who headed Kach movement. "
Just to remind readers that Kach "is a hard-line Israeli militant group that advocates for the expulsion of Arabs from the biblical lands of Israel. The U.S. State Department listed it as a terrorist organization in 1994. Kach, as well as the splinter group Kahane Chai, condones violence as a viable method for establishing a religiously homogenous state."
We see that the continuing war crimes accusations have rattled Israel. Good.The gangster state needs a good lesson.