IDF Battalion Chief Questioned About Sexual Harassment, Abuse of Funds

Suspect heads battalion where soldiers were allegedly sexually molested by platoon commander.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Women soldiers in the IDF.
Women soldiers in the IDF.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

A battalion commander in the Israel Defense Forces’ Givati Brigade was questioned Tuesday by Military Police on suspicion of sexually harassing a female subordinate.

While under questioning, the commander was also asked about possible unethical practices in dealing with monetary donations to the battalion. Kol Israel’s Carmela Menashe first reported the questioning Tuesday. According to the report, questions were asked about donations being used to purchase watches as well other personal items.

The battalion in question is the same as the one from which reports recently surfaced about two soldiers who were sexually molested by their platoon commander. Those reports were originally covered up by brigade command.

A Military Police investigation into those allegations was only opened after the media learned of the incident, and the platoon commander as well as the battalion commander were questioned. According to an official with knowledge of the incident, the battalion commander actually suggested to the soldiers that they file a report with the Military Police, a suggestion they refused. Only later did the two soldiers reconsider and file the report, at which point the investigation began. The same informed official also stated that the platoon commander in question was removed from his position when the report surfaced.

The chief military defense counsel, Col. Asher Halperin, representing the battalion commander, said in response, “This is an outstanding officer who has had an exemplary service, one of the most highly regarded commanders in the IDF, who recently led his soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, as well as Operation Brother’s Keeper. During these operations he exhibited courage in life-threatening situations.

This officer is currently under investigation, and is fully complying, in order to advance the process as much as possible. We are unable to comment on the specifics of the allegations, so as not to, God forbid, obstruct the investigation. At the same time, we can say that we are sure that the investigation will find that the officer committed no crime, and at this point in the investigation, the current picture seems very different than the one painted by the original allegations.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit also issued an official response. “The Military Police’s National Fraud Investigation unit has been conducting an undercover investigation for a number of weeks, after receiving intelligence information as well as complaints about conduct unbefiting the IDF as well as in contradiction of standing orders.

The investigation has included dozens of undercover investigators who have questioned many soldiers in order to understand the incidents in question. At this point, the investigation has gone public, and commanders have been questioned on suspicion of carrying out crimes. The investigation is currently going ahead at full speed and when it is finished, all findings will be turned over to the military prosecutor’s office.”

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