IDF Commander Jailed for Hazing Recruits During Basic Training

Sergeant sentenced to 28 days in prison for forcing recruits to crawl through area they had defecated in, then making them sleep in the sullied uniforms.

A sergeant in the Armored Corps forced recruits in basic training to crawl at night through an area where they had relieved themselves earlier. He then forced them to sleep in their sleeping bags in the uniforms they had been wearing while doing the crawling, Israel Radio reported Monday.

The Army Spokesman’s Office called the revelation “a severe incident that does not conform to the values of the Israel Defense Forces,” and said that the commander in question was court martialed by the brigade commander and sentenced to 28 days in prison, and was relieved of command.

Another military official said the commander had “made a mistake in judgment. After the incident the company commander had a conversation with the soldiers and emphasized the severity of the act.”

In recent years a number of cases have been made public of harassment and hazing by commanders in combat units of either new recruits or more veteran soldiers. Last October, a company in the Combat Intelligence Collection Corps was disbanded and its commanders sent to prison after it emerged that they had beaten their soldiers with wooden bats to “make them stronger.”

Last August, a case of harassment in the Kfir Brigade was reported, in which veteran soldiers beat up a newer recruit, who required hospitalization as a result. Last year, commanders in the Givati Brigade were found to have beaten their soldiers and infringed on their rights.

The ombudsman of soldiers’ complaints in the Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brik, told Haaretz in a past interview: “When I receive a serious complaint of abuse or violence and the answer of the company or battalion commander is ‘I didn’t know’ – that is a commander who is unworthy to command. It’s either you’re lying or you’re disconnected. Then you are not worthy to be a commander in the IDF.”