An IDF inquiry reveals that the soldier had been attacked on Wednesday for "daring" to touch the "seniority stick" – a bar with special markings which indicate the seniority of combatants who have just a few months left in their service.
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According to the rules decided by the soldiers, only the most senior troops are allowed to touch the stick, which is popular with other battalions.
Nahshon Battalion base in Jordan Valley (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
The victim, it is revealed, touched the stick without authorization and was soon "tried" by the veteran soldiers who decided to punish him with a group assault. The soldier took the beating, went to sleep but woke up the next morning feeling ill. He fainted at the base's toilet and was rushed to hospital.
Kfir Brigade Commander Major-General Udi Ben Mucha personally questioned the victim at the hospital and then approached the eight suspects, who confessed to the hazing. They were suspended from their combat posts and an IDF investigation was launched. Ben Mucha has vowed to fight the hazing phenomenon and spare no efforts in completely eradicating it. He also dismantled the battalion's auxiliary company's patrol squad.
Friends visit wounded soldier (Photo: Courtesy of Haemek Medical Center)
One of the combatants from the victim's company revealed there is a bond of silence surrounding hazing cases. "Veteran soldiers don't have many privileges so they set seniority rules," he said. "In this case, they definitely went too far."
The victim's mother said she never dreamed her son would be beaten by his fellow soldiers. "These guys need to be put away for a long time. I would even say they should be expelled from the army and serve their time in a civilian prison, military prison is a picnic for them," she said. "My son could have died there. This could have ended much worse and they must be held accountable."
Suspects brought to remand hearing (Photo: Moti Kimhi)
An initial investigation revealed this was not the first time the suspects were involved in a hazing. Some of the suspects claimed that even commanders took beatings from them and that everything "was done in good spirit and with no one complaining."
The suspects refused to comment on the allegations but claimed they have evidence proving hazing is a common practice in the company and accepted by the commanders. Some said that hazing was done when soldiers wanted to showcase their physical strength. "We would tell those soldiers to show their six-pack or muscles and then punch them. Nothing was coerced, everything was voluntary."
The mother of one suspect said, "I won't let my son, who spent two and a half years of his life in the most elite combat unit, to be turned into a scapegoat. Everyone knows these things are in jest and there is no intent to harm. This is definitely not a one-time incident. It happened over and over again."
Shai Roda, one of the suspects' attorneys claimed the exact opposite. "This is a single case that went out of proportion. My client's name was mistakenly linked to the case."
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