15 combat soldiers from the Kfir Brigade left their base Thursday without permission in protest against one of the base's commanding officers. At the last minute they were returned, however, and are now scheduled to stand trial.
The soldiers, currently undergoing training, left the training base late Thursday afternoon without their commander's approval following an argument they had with him about their recent claims of being treated unfairly.
The soldiers claimed the junior commanders' attitude towards them had been unacceptable, and that over the last few months their basic rights, such as that of seeing a doctor, had been violated.
The tension reached it peak when one of the officers notified the soldiers they would have to remain at the base during the weekend and the Shavuot holiday directly following, despite the fact that they did not have to be on call in the north, as planned. The reason was that a large drill had been planned for the following week and the commanders feared the soldiers would not return after the long weekend, for various reasons.
The soldiers were angered by the decision and appealed to the department commander, claiming they had already remained at the base for consecutive weekends. They also claimed the decision was unjustified, in light of the fact that it did not serve an operational purpose.
Following the argument, some of the soldiers left the base in order to wait for a bus scheduled to pass by. After they had already boarded the bus they were commanded to return to the base. Upon returning, they were reprimanded by the commanding officer.
The father of one of the soldiers told Ynet that his son had been complaining recently of ill treatment in the army. "I know my son well, and he is extremely motivated to serve in the army... It is unacceptable that during every phone conversation I should hear about what a terrible time he and his friends are having, and even about humiliation they receive from the commanders."
The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated in response to the incident that "a number of soldiers from the Kfir Brigade left the base after discovering that they had not received leave for the weekend and holiday. The soldiers were returned immediately to the base by their commanders. This was an unusual event and the base commander has launched an investigation. Following the investigation the course of action will be determined."