Thirteen soldiers from the Golani Brigade's 51st Battalion were sentenced on Monday to 20 days in a military prison for refusing to secure an army base in the Golan Heights, Ynet learned on Monday. Two other soldiers from the same unit went AWOL.
The soldiers reportedly refused the order because they felt their commanders had punished them excessively. The combatants said that over the past few months, their commanders had repeatedly canceled their vacations and confined them to the base over what the soldiers referred to as petty acts. This treatment led them to collectively refuse the order, the soldiers said.
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It remains unclear whether the jailed soldiers will resume their service in the brigade.
Other soldiers from the brigade were eventually sent to secure the army base in the Golan.
51st Battalion in training (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
"These are quality soldiers from a top unit within the battalion who felt they were being abused," a relative of one of the jailed soldiers said. "They want to serve their country, and over the past few months they have given their all at the exhausting and demanding brigade-level training exercise."
Another relative said some of the soldiers were confined to their base "because they did not get a good enough result in the 5,000-meter race, while others were confined to the base for not rolling their shirt sleeves adequately. Some of them hadn't visited their homes in over a month, while others decided to go AWOL before the incident."
Last month, Ynet revealed that six commanders and combatants from a Golani Brigade auxiliary company were jailed for physical and mental abuse of soldiers, which spanned months. They were jailed for 14-21 day stretches. Soldiers' testimonies obtained by Ynet served as the basis for the charges brought against them.
According to testimonies, the company commander, a captain, would often swear at and humiliate his subordinates. "It was a habit for him to swear at his soldiers," one soldier said. "He even threw stones and hit a soldier in the back with a stick during one of the exercises."
A month earlier, five combatants and officers from the brigade's elite Egoz unit were dismissed, following an incident in which one of the soldiers urinated on the head of a fellow combatant while his comrades cheered him on and filmed the hazing ceremony with their cell phones.
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