Three former Israel Air Force soldiers were arrested on suspicion of having illegal sexual relations with nine underage female students at the IAF preparatory high school in Beersheba, where the three served as instructors.
The arrests followed an undercover investigation by the military police. The men involved are suspected of committing sexual offenses including rape, statutory rape, indecent acts and sexual harassment by a person in a position of authority.
The affair first came to the authorities’ attention two months ago after an instructor at the school filed a complaint detailing forbidden relationships between instructors and female students aged 14 to 16. The details of the case were placed under a gag order, which was lifted on Thursday.
The police, who suspect more students were involved, said they lifted the gag order to encourage them to come forward.
According to Maariv, a preliminary investigation indicated the acts were consensual and that in some cases sex was traded for passing grades. The police released one of the suspects under restrictive conditions. The other two remained in custody.
IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said he regards the affair with gravity, calling it a moral failure as well as a crime. Eshel reportedly instructed a probe into other IAF schools.
One of the suspect’s lawyers told Yedioth Ahronoth that his client denied all charges involving non-consensual relations. He said the complaints by the students were a set-up to get back at instructors who gave one of the girls a low grade.