Paratroopers from the 890th battalion took off their weapons and placed them in a pile in front of their battalion commander's office in protest over a decision to send some of their brothers-in-arms to prison.
The conflict began when soldiers from the 'spearhead' and 'auxiliary' companies from the battalion began singing songs poking fun at each other during meals in the cafeteria. The teasing escalated into the exchange of barrages of tomatoes, then rocks and finally, a smoke grenade was thrown.
Following these incidents, seven soldiers—two from the spearhead and five from the auxiliary—were sent to army jail.
To show their disagreement, soldiers from the auxiliary company threw down their arms and refused to follow orders. Yaki Dolef, the battalion commander of 890, sentenced seven more soldiers to between 42 and 56 days of jail time—considered severe sentences—for their acts of protest.
According to the soldiers, those who were sent to prison were chosen arbitrarily without any evidence implicating them. The soldiers accused the battalion commander of choosing soldiers considered leaders within the company in an attempt to break the rest of the soldiers' will and find out who was responsible for throwing the smoke grenade.
The parents of the imprisoned soldiers reacted angrily and said their children should not be tried without any evidence of their guilt.
The soldiers from the auxiliary company claimed that they were just trying to show solidarity with their imprisoned comrades.
"We showed them what the value of brotherhood is and together we set out to protest against our commanders," the soldiers said.
The IDF spokesperson responded by saying, "The battalion commander decided to take punitive measures against the soldiers after he was made aware of their acts which are contrary to the IDF and paratrooper ethos. The soldiers will be tried and incarcerated.
"A number of soldiers protested the severity of the sentences but after a discussion with their commanders, they returned to duty. The battalion commander responded as expected and required in the face of behavior that has no place in the IDF," the spokesman said.