Footage Shows Violent Tiff Between Golani Officer, Soldier

IDF Spokesman's Office: 'Exceptional' incident, involving commander of soldier who left base without leave, contradicts army values.

Soldiers in the IDF's Golani Brigade training in the Golan Heights in 2013 (illustrative photo).
Ariel Schalit/AP

An army officer was photographed violently shoving one of his subordinates in what the Israel Defense Forces termed an "exceptional" incident that doesn’t accord with the army’s values.

The incident began when a soldier in the Golani Brigade went missing from his base without taking leave. When he returned, his platoon sergeant berated him, and the ensuing argument degenerated into a physical confrontation. That resulted in the soldier being hauled up before the battalion commander for hitting a superior, the army said.

But when the soldier returned from this disciplinary hearing, his company commander shoved him, when the soldier shouted that he was unfit to be an officer and that his soldiers wouldn’t follow him into battle.

According to the soldier’s family, he was absent from the base for two days because his brother was leaving the country. The soldier told them that before the confrontation with his superiors began, he was asked to hand over his dog tag with the Golani emblem – an emblem many soldiers view as a status symbol, since it attests that they made it into a popular combat unit.

The soldier told his family that the footage of his confrontation with the company commander only shows part of the goings-on. In addition to shoving him, he said, the officer choked him and tried to forcibly remove his dog tag.

He also said the officer is routinely violent, treats some of the soldiers in the company in a racist manner, and that his own confrontation with the officer was part of a broader conflict between the officer and his subordinates.

The soldier’s father told Haaretz that his son is not an outstanding soldier and has faced disciplinary action in the past, “but that doesn’t justify the company commander’s actions.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said this was an “exceptional incident that doesn’t accord with the IDF’s values.” The soldier, it said in a statement, was absent without leave, refused to obey an order and hit his commander, for which he was tried by the battalion commander and sentenced to jail. Then, “when the soldiers refused to leave the company compound, the company commander sought to remove him due to his violent behavior.”

The officer’s behavior was “personally dealt with that same day” by the battalion commander, the statement added.