While a massive snowstorm slammed the heart of Israel in mid-December, forcing most residents indoors for several days and causing widespread electricity shortages, IDF servicemen of the elite “Maglan” unit celebrated the winter weather in a different fashion.
With their commander barking orders, the soldiers proceeded to conduct a series of firing drills in the snow armed only in military vests, assault rifles, and their underwear. The entire affair was captured on camera phone and aired online by Walla news and on Israeli television Wednesday.
Upon discovering that the orders were counter to army safety protocol, some soldiers chose to speak out against their officer: “He does whatever he wants with us. This officer thinks he is second to God and is always telling us ‘You don’t want to get to know my dark side,’” one soldier told the Walla site.
Another member of the unit said the soldiers had been trained not to refuse orders for fear of reprisal in getting a promotion.
“This is abuse. This officer took advantage of his rank and the weakness of his subordinates. We are talking about someone who lacks all sensitivity and people skills,” he said.
However, a member of the unit interviewed on Channel 2 said the commander had not initiated the trow-dropping, and it was actually a fellow soldier’s idea.
The army said in response that the drill was done as part of a team effort and was not hazing.
“Any claim that the activity was imposed from above is baseless,” an army spokesperson told Walla.
The IDF has been cracking down on officer abuse and in recent years, and has levied serious punishment upon those who exceeded their authority.