Another hazing case has been discovered in the IDF's Kfir Brigade, just four months after senior soldiers of its Nachshon Brigade were convicted of abusing a new recruit.
This time, however, when senior soldiers at the Duchifat Battalion tried to distinguish themselves from their juniors by refusing to perform their duties, their commanders quickly responded. Ynet learned Saturday that five of the battalion's servicemen were jailed after refusing to follow orders.
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The decision to disobey orders came as part of the soldiers' complaints to their officers that they were not granted any privileges they believed they were entitled to due to their seniority; and that new recruits were essentially their equals in terms of their duties and obligations.
Privileges traditionally granted to veteran soldiers are nowadays disappearing, as IDF officials fear that any distinction between senior and junior servicemen serves as catalyst for violent hazing rituals.
As a result, no benefits or privileges are given on account of seniority, other than exemption from administrative tasks during the last eight months of mandatory duty.
Senior soldiers are nonetheless frustrated and work to find creative and often covert ways to distinguish themselves from their juniors. Brigade commanders have therefore initiated meetings on the matter, in which they discuss the hazing and try to uncover any incidents that might still be occurring.
According to a senior Duchifat soldier, "None of us have any intention of hurting or humiliating young soldiers, and we never have. All we want to do is upgrade our status... to try to enjoy the last few months of a very demanding combat service."
After commanders spotted signs of hazing, the senior soldier tried to explain his comrades' need for acknowledgement of their seniority: "These are people who do the same straining drills for two and a half years without moving forward or learning new skills. This took its toll on us and can easily happen with other units, if senior soldiers don’t get any kind of recognition."
The Kfir Brigade – and specifically Duchifat – has recently been praised by senior IDF officials for their professional capabilities, and two of the brigade's battalions were chosen to lead the potential ground incursion into Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense.
Commenting on the controversial issue of seniority, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit stated: "The IDF condemns any disobedience by soldiers. Five soldiers involved in this incident were tried and sentenced to 20 days in prison for refusing to assume their posts. All soldiers of the brigade share all duties – operational and administrative – equally."
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