Meir Shalev
Photo: AFP

What happened to our army?

When elite unit is equipped with tear gas, we know something’s wrong with IDF

I read an unfortunate article about the Golani elite reconnaissance unit in the newspaper. I read it with special interest, because too many years ago I also served in that unit. The story’s heading was “Hazing ceremony at Golani” and it recounted the abuse new recruits were subjected to by their commanders after earning the prestigious unit’s beret.


According to the story, the commanders sent the new recruits to the showers, closed the doors, and hurled several tear gas grenades into the shower. The report notes that one of the soldiers suffered an epileptic seizure and his comrades were warned not to tell anyone about the hazing ceremony.


Abuse of new recruits, particularly at elite units, shows us time and again that in contradiction to what we saw in the last war the IDF is not stagnating, but rather, keeps on improving. At least in that area we display fresh thinking and exhibit a sense of originality and creativity.


My views on abuse of soldiers are certainly decisive, and I hope that if this story is accurate the culprits will be punished. Yet what drew my attention and puzzled me was a wholly different matter. Since when does an elite army unit, Golani no less, have tear gas grenades?


Policing duties

I will ask this again: Why is Golani, an elite military unit, equipped with tear gas, normally reserved for the police? Do they also have handcuffs and bats? When my comrades and I served in Golani we were given fragmentation grenades, phosphorus grenades, and smoke grenades. When it came to new recruits, only firecrackers were hurled at them (except for one case, when a stun grenade was hurled at the bathroom exactly when the staff sergeant of another unit was there. I won’t provide any more details on that, except for saying it was an act of revenge with mitigating circumstances.)


The fact that these days fighters in the Golani reconnaissance unit are equipped with tear gas grenades attests to what happened to the IDF and in the IDF since the Six Day War, which members of my enlistment round participated in.


We liberated our homeland, we returned to our holiest sites, we waited for the phone to ring, we let the settlers create today’s reality, and now the Golani unit has a new weapon – tear gas grenades.


Who knows, perhaps hurling the grenades on the new recruits was merely a training session. This is how it is when the army is forced to take policing duties upon itself and an entire country is made to dance around the golden calf of the territories and settlements.


פרסום ראשון: 03.04.08, 10:03
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