IDF suspends several troops for singing Hanukkah songs into Jenin mosque loudspeakers

Amid 3-day op in West Bank city, soldiers filmed singing Jewish prayers; military vows discipline for ‘serious’ offense; unnamed official says move harms army’s image

An IDF soldier sings from the imam's platform of a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin, December 14, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
An IDF soldier sings from the imam's platform of a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin, December 14, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday suspended several soldiers who appeared on video singing Hanukkah songs over the loudspeaker system in a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin.

The incident came as the military continued a three-day operation in the city, a hotbed for terrorism, during which troops detained hundreds of suspects and seized weapons.

Footage circulating online showed the soldiers singing Hanukkah songs and the Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael” (Hear, O Israel).

The IDF said the soldiers were removed from operational duty immediately after their commanders saw and investigated the videos.

“The behavior of the soldiers in the videos is serious and is completely contrary to IDF values,” it said, adding that “the soldiers will be disciplined accordingly.”

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari further condemned the incident during his daily press briefing, vowing “steps will be taken in accordance” against any troops who do not adhere to the army’s values.

An IDF soldier sings into the loudspeaker of a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin, December 14, 2023. (X video screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An unnamed security official told Kan news that the “independent act of a small force not only harms the image of the IDF, it also diverts attention from the important achievements of the operation.”

Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef also denounced the incident, calling on the military’s top chaplain “to explain to soldiers that they must not harm the religious sentiments of the adherents of other faiths.”

“The people of Israel are a special nation and do not act like the murders who without mercy slaughtered, plundered, damaged and desecrated all that is holy and dear to us,” Yosef wrote in a letter to Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim, in apparent reference to the Hamas terrorists who committed the October 7 atrocities in southern Israel.

“We must therefore be especially cautious and refrain from acts that are of no benefit to the fighting and cause damage to the people of Israel’s image in the world,”added Yosef.

Since the October 7 onslaught by Hamas against Israel, troops have arrested over 2,000 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,100 affiliated with Hamas. According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 280 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in a few cases by settlers.

Based on military estimates, the vast majority of the 280 Palestinians killed since October 7 were shot dead during clashes amid arrest raids, and many of them, according to data seen by The Times of Israel, were armed with either a firearm or an explosive device.

The IDF is aware of at least three cases of uninvolved Palestinians being killed by troops in recent weeks, and a handful of cases of settlers killing Palestinians, which are still under investigation.

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