TEL AVIV - IDF Corporal Avi Beiber, who refused to participate in an IDF house demolition operation in Shirat Yam, was sentenced by deputy Gaza Division commander Col. David Menachem to 56 jails in military prison for disobeying an order.
Beiber was found guilty on counts of disobeying an order and threatening and insulting a commander.
Beiber’s request to be tried by a military tribunal was rejected Monday.
During the trial Beiber argued he did not disobey an order, but merely protested against the beating up of Jews.
Beiber’s father, Raphael, who supported his son’s actions, told Ynet, “We will appeal the verdict, and even if Avi goes to prison, it will not break him. He is a strong person and we will support him every day.”
Beiber's attorney upset
Beiber’s attorney Shai Galili told Ynet his client did not swear at anyone during the incident and dismissed reports the soldier used foul language against an IDF officer present at the scene.
Galili also slammed the IDF Prosecutor’s Office for handing over investigation material only a short time before the trial.
“They didn’t give me a fair chance to collect evidence, bring in witnesses, and consult the investigation material,” he said. “In fact, Avi was deprived of the possibility of defending himself fairly.”
Meanwhile, dozens of Gush Katif residents staged a demonstration outside an IDF base in Gaza in support of Beiber. The protesters called on soldiers “not to be partners to the horror of expelling Jews from their homes.”
Earlier, Gaza Division Commander Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi said the “IDF won’t tolerate such conduct under any circumstances,” referring to Beiber’s refusal to participate in the mission.
Beiber made headlines in Israel and abroad after refusing to clash with settlers while the army was demolishing abandoned structure in Gaza. After yelling out, “A Jew doesn’t expel a Jew,” Beiber removed his helmet and refused to follow orders to secure the area.
His commanders promptly took away his rifle and removed him from the site.
Beiber’s father proud
However, Ynet later learned Beiber was not the only one unhappy with the mission. Twelve soldiers from the same combat engineering unit were reprimanded by their commander after saying they were misled about the mission and threatening to refuse to take part in future evacuations.
In a recorded testimony, one soldier said “no one prepared us…friends were speaking amongst themselves during the incident and saying ‘we were deceived’.”
Meanwhile, Beiber father, Rafael, told Ynet he was proud of his son’s actions.
“My son did something courageous by not hiding his feelings,” he said. “He saw officers beating Jews and couldn’t take it.”