Military chief Aviv Kohavi on Tuesday voiced the IDF’s backing for female soldiers who were allegedly secretly filmed in intimate situations by an officer, vowing zero tolerance for sexual abuse in the army.
Kohavi attended a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony with one of the women at the training school for the Technology and Logistics Directorate, a day after the IDF dismissed Lt. Col. Dan Sharoni over the accusations. Sharoni was an officer at the base.
“It’s a miracle that we exposed this during Hanukkah,” Sgt. First Class Or Nehamia told Kohavi. “I want to wish that the candles I’m lighting right now will light the way forward of all the girls who were harmed.”
“We will get through everything and there will always be a light for all of us at the end of the tunnel,” she added.
Kohavi hailed Nehamia’s “correct and brave action” for coming forward with allegations against Sharoni, saying she was an example to others.
“I strengthen all the other girls and wish that we’ll get stronger from this incident,” he said.
He also denounced Sharoni’s suspected actions as “unacceptable, grave and indecent” and called them “a double disgrace” as they were allegedly perpetrated by an officer.
“I’m ashamed in the name of the officers’ corps involved in this incident,” Kohavi said. “Any type of verbal or physical harm, or any harm to privacy is very grave and unacceptable. We’ve established a principle of ‘zero tolerance’ in cases of this type.”
The comments came after Kohavi sent troops a letter condemning the alleged incidents last week, saying “we will not accept any direct or indirect harm to both men and women.”
Over the course of several years, on different bases where he served, Sharoni allegedly filmed female soldiers in their barracks and other private areas using hidden cameras. He is also suspected of illegally copying intimate photos of female soldiers under his command to his own cellphone.
Sharoni was arrested earlier this month and has been in custody since his arrest. On Monday, a military court extended his arrest by an additional seven days, the IDF said.
At least 38 women have testified against him and investigators expect to identify more of his victims soon, prosecutors said.
The case follows two other high-profile incidents of alleged sexual offenses against female soldiers.
On Wednesday, Gilboa Prison commander Freddy Ben Shitrit appeared to confirm reports from 2018 that female soldiers who were doing their military service in the prison as guards were “pimped” to Palestinian inmates.
Last week, an officer in an elite unit of the navy was charged with three counts of rape against another soldier in a case that roiled the service branch.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.