Golani soldiers jailed in latest incident of mass desertion

Troops of 12th Batallion leave base in protest of Military Police investigation of comrades; IDF condemns ‘serious incident’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Illustrative: Golani Brigade soldiers during training in northern Israel, February 16, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces)
Illustrative: Golani Brigade soldiers during training in northern Israel, February 16, 2015. (Israel Defense Forces)

Eight soldiers of the Golani Brigade were handed jail sentences on Thursday for leaving their base without permission, in protest of comrades who were being investigated by Military Police.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the eight soldiers of the 12th Batallion were brought back to their base a short while after leaving, after being ordered to return by their commanders.

“This is a serious incident in which the troops acted contrary to IDF orders and what was expected of them,” the military said.

The eight were handed jail sentences of between 25 and 45 days. Three of them were also removed from serving in combat positions after completing their sentence.

According to a military source, the soldiers left their base on Wednesday in protest of four soldiers from their unit who were being investigated by Military Police. The four had been suspended from combat positions amid the investigation.

Golani soldiers have a history of mass desertion over alleged unfair treatment in the military.

Last month, an entire company of troops from Golani’s 51st Batallion deserted their training base in apparent anger over being given a new commander.

Two were handed short jail sentences, 15 days and 20 days, and a third soldier was denied furlough for 28 days. The rest of the company was given suspended sentences.

In another recent incident involving troops of the 51st Battalion, several officers and soldiers were rebuked and jailed in February after a senior officer was beaten up during a brawl with a group of soldiers.

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