After news spread that Navy Chief Major General Eli Marom partied at a strip club in Tel Aviv Monday night, the naval commander expressed his remorse to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in a letter.
In the letter, which was given to Ashkenazi on Tuesday, Marom wrote that he had spent the previous night at a strip club, and said he was aware that such conduct was not in line with the army's values for an officer of his rank and added that it was a one-time slip that he regretted.
The senior officer also apologized to the chief of staff for damage the affair caused to the military's image. Ashkenazi made a note of the officer's explanation and reproached him.
Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday that the officer was spotted by civilians at an Allenby Street strip club the previous night, smoking a cigar, drinking alcohol and surrounded by bare-chested women.
Marom initially said in response that he "stayed for a short while after coming to say hi to a friend".
The incident became the talk of the day within the army, and stirred much embarrassment among senior officers. Quite a few officers criticized the commander, saying his visit to the club was "in bad taste" and called his night out "an immoral decision that is not becoming of an officer that is part of the general staff".
Other officers said that lower ranking commanders have been penalized for actions that strayed from the military's values and norms in the past.
"A military general is supposed to serve as a personal example and role model. When he does something like this he is shaking the foundations and legitimacy with which he operates against his subordinates in matters of values and discipline, and this incident should not have occurred," one officer said.
IDF sources said that military officers, including the senior ones among them, alongside their military roles and work around the clock, are also private citizens in their free time and are allowed to spend this time in any way the chose.
Nonetheless, an IDF sources said there was an "awkward feeling" about the kind of entertainment Marom had chosen.
Female officers: Marom has to go
Former Knesset Member Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amira Dotan told Ynet that she agreed the Navy chief should resign. "I don't know if what he did was demeaning to women, but regardless of this – he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and part of it relates to his public conduct even when he's off duty… to be a commander is, first and foremost to be an ethical person."
Another senior female reserve officer, Deputy Haifa Mayor Brig.-Gen. Hedva Almog, also thinks that Marom should quit. "I'm very annoyed with what happened. This is inappropriate conduct, to say the least. It's improper that the female clerks entering his office this morning would have to think of where he was last night and what he did. I find this terrible."
Almog said that Marom failed to adhere to the standards expected from s senior army officer. "Someone who commands soldiers, and especially female soldiers, should know that these places are not a suitable meeting place for him – places that make cynical use of the woman's body and exploit it," she added.
Yael Levy and Reuven Weiss contributed to the report