IDF Chief of Staff Vows to Eradicate Abuse Among Conscripts

Commander of the Armored Corps' Brigade 188 was questioned Wednesday in connection with abuse of young soldiers.

IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi Wednesday blasted the abuse incidents recently exposed in the IDF and pledged to eradicate them. "We have no tolerance toward [these incidents]," Ashkenazi told Command and Staff College graduates Wednesday, referring to the hazing practiced in certain Armored Corps and Air Force units.

He called on commanders to "listen to every complaint ... without exception."

"We must all comb every platoon, squad, base and section with steel combs," he said. "We must encourage exposure so that we can trace, deal with and especially prevent [such incidents]."

"We must make our soldiers aware that this is not informing [on their colleagues] but the duty of every soldier and commander. An IDF soldier is our most important resource. Society entrusts them to us."

Ashkenazi said that IDF commanders have led to the exposure of "abnormal" acts including verbal and physical abuse, humiliation, intimidation and abuse of authority. "It's a moral failure and a breach of command values, and we are determined to deal with it," he said.

These cases do not reflect the general situation in the army, "but require us all to examine ourselves and uproot any such unworthy and delinquent behavior with education, information, enforcement and if necessary punishment," Ashkenazi added.

The commander of the Armored Corps' Brigade 188, Col. Ilan Lavi, was questioned under caution by the Military Police Wednesday in connection with the abuse of young soldiers under his command. He said he had not been aware of these goings on.

Several soldiers who were arrested for the alleged hazing said they were continuing a tradition that their commanders and veteran soldiers were well aware of. Three suspects, two staff sergeants and a sergeant, were indicted in a Haifa military court this week on numerous abuse charges. Their custody was extended until the end of the judiciary procedure.

Other officers have recently been questioned whether they knew of the abuse practiced against the brigade's new soldiers. The commander in whose squadron the abuse had taken place has been suspended.