Four Israel Navy soldiers admitted on Sunday to having had sexual relations with prostitutes during a joint military exercise in Greece last month. On Monday, the soldiers were to face a military tribunal on charges of inappropriate behavior.
Their commander, a lieutenant colonel in the navy, was given a letter of reprimand Sunday night.
“The incident cuts against all the values these soldiers were taught to uphold,” a navy spokesperson said. “The severe punishment meted out to the commander of the ship bears this out.”
The indiscretions of the soldiers may be the least of the IDF’s concerns with this incident. When the soldiers returned to their ship and boasted of what they did, their comrades and even commanders praised them for their actions. According to Maariv, one commander gave two of the soldiers a special medal for “no longer being virgins.”
The alleged incident took place in Piraeus, where the Israeli ships spent several days engaged in search and rescue drills together with their Greek counterparts. The Greek defense minister and army chief of staff were among the many officials who came to observe some of the exercises.
When the sailors were allowed shore leave, the four sailors in question reportedly got drunk before engaging the local prostitutes.
Aside from the behavioral issues raised by the incident, the army was reportedly also concerned over a lapse in security.
In light of increased attempts by hostile groups to kidnap Israeli soldiers, the IDF has enforced stringent guidelines to all personnel when visiting abroad in the course of their military service. In addition to the standard expected behavior, soldiers are encouraged to keep a low profile and to call as little attention to themselves as possible.
The IDF spokesman said that the incident was being investigated thoroughly.