"It was all a joke, she's a wonderful woman and a dedicated employee," insist the superiors of a 50-year-old female IDF civilian employee, a mother and grandmother, who has been charged with sexually harassing several officers and enlisted soldiers in the armory base where she works.
Following a Military Police investigation into the allegations IDF prosecutors decided to file an indictment against the woman, who has not been named.
Military Police investigators have spent the past few months collecting numerous testimonies from officers and soldiers at one of the IDF's armory bases in central Israel. The alleged incidents occurred between 2003 and 2005.
The evidence was then handed over to the military prosecution. Stunned by the testimonies, the prosecution summoned the woman to a military hearing.
The woman claimed that the entire affair was the work of one soldier who was seeking revenge after she reported several incidents in which he had lied regarding military issues. No punitive measures have been taken against the employee yet and she continues to work at the base.
'I hear Yemenites are endowed'
The indictment specifies five incidents in which soldiers and officers reported that the woman had made inappropriate lewd comments, asked them intimate questions and, on one occasion, pinched an officer's buttocks and touched another officer's genitalia through his pants.
The employee is accused of repeatedly asking the soldiers what they did over the weekend with their girlfriends and their sexual habits.
To one soldier of Yemenite decent she allegedly said "I hear Yemenites are endowed" and then snapped the waistband of his underwear in front of other soldiers and further embarrassed him by saying "who needs girls when he's got a hand."
The employee's superiors called her a dedicated worker and said that the whole thing had simply "gotten out of hand." Other commanders in the base say that the employee meant no harm, calling her words tactless but not harassment.
Military sources also implied that the complaint may only turn out to be the personal vendetta of a soldier who had been discredited by the woman. Had he not complained, say the sources, chances are that no one would have ever accused the woman of harassment. However, every complaint must be investigated.
The woman's attorneys, Almogit Avital and Idan Pesach, are of the opinion that no indictment should have been filed against their client. Avital and Pesach noted that the complainant, who had served as a subordinate of the defendant, was repeatedly caught lying by her and eventually tried over his lack of
credibility. He was then dishonorably discharged from his military service and is now seeking revenge, said the defendant's lawyers.
"We are confident that the truth will be revealed and our client will be exonerated," they added.
"Even if a person has expressed herself in a controversial manner, from a legal standpoint she cannot be charged with a criminal offense and in this case there is no doubt that the evidence does not justify criminal charges.
"Not every act of impropriety justifies criminal proceedings and smearing someone as a felon," said Avital and Pesach.