Two soldiers from Givati Brigade's Tzabar Battalion have been arrested on suspicion of physically and verbally abusing their comrades.
A military court extended the suspects' remand until Monday. Five other combat soldiers have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the affair.
According to suspicions, the soldiers beat their comrades, who were new to the battalion, with rods that are used to hold up targets in shooting practice. The soldiers also hurled insults at the younger troops over a long period of time, according to a Military Police investigation.
The alleged incidents took place some four months ago, but the younger soldiers were apparently afraid to lodge a complaint. Earlier this week one of them informed his commanders of the alleged abuse. Signs of violence were found on some of the complainants' bodies.
"According to the testimonies, (abusing younger soldiers) is a deeply-rooted practice in the army," one investigator said during the Thursday's court hearing.
Colonel Erez Porat, president of the Southern Command and Ground Forces' military court, said there was sufficient evidence linking the suspects to the incidents. "Soldiers from the unit described a code of silence due to fears of reprisals from the more senior combatants – some of this is due to shame," he said, adding that the practice must be "uprooted."
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