After right’s backlash, IDF cuts jail time for Hebron soldier who taunted activist
Commander of Givati brigade’s Tzabar battalion — who has come under threats over the punishment — accepts soldier’s apology; he will serve 6 days instead of 10
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
The Israel Defense Forces on Friday said it had reduced the sentence of a soldier who taunted a left-wing activist in the West Bank city of Hebron last week by four days.
The soldier, who last Friday confronted an activist and boasted that there would be no tolerance of such behavior when far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir becomes national security minister, was initially sentenced to 10 days in military jail.
The jailed soldier later apologized and asked that his sentence be dismissed or lessened.
“Following the acceptance of responsibility and remorse expressed by the soldier… the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Aviran Alfasi, recommended yesterday to his commanders to soften his sentence by four days,” the IDF said Friday.
The head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Toledano, accepted Alfasi’s recommendation, and the soldier will now serve just six days over the incident.
Right-wing lawmakers and activists had expressed outrage at the initial sentence, publicizing the name and photo of Alfasi, the commander of the Givati Brigade’s Tzabar Battalion.
The commander also faced invective and threats, mostly on social media, but also coming directly to his phone, since meting out the punishment.
The military made no mention of the backlash in its statement and gave no indication that it had affected the decision to shorten the soldier’s jail time.
IDF chief Aviv Kohavi has slammed “political meddling” in the case, saying on Wednesday that only commanders would decide how to handle wayward soldiers.
Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz has also denied requests by Ben Gvir to visit the soldier.
During the incident last week, a fellow member of the soldier’s team was seen tackling an activist to the ground and punching him in the face. The second soldier was not immediately punished, aside from being immediately suspended following the assault.
Troops in the Givati Brigade have been embroiled in several other recent behavioral incidents in Hebron that have led to suspensions.
Givati troops have been embroiled in several other recent behavioral incidents in Hebron that have led to suspensions.
A senior military commander on Monday warned Israeli troops they would face repercussions for actions the military deems immoral.
The West Bank has been on edge over the past year, with the IDF launching a major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year. Hebron is in the southern part of the territory.