Senior officer beaten during brawl with soldiers from rival company
Incident apparently sparked by Golani officer ordering troops to bar regional brigade’s chief signal operator over insult, leading to deputy commander being stomped on inside base
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
The military is investigating a “serious violent incident” in which a senior officer was beaten up during a brawl with a group of soldiers on a West Bank base, the Israel Defense Forces said Monday.
According to an initial IDF probe of the event and eyewitness accounts, the incident began on Sunday after the chief signal operator of the Yehuda Territorial Brigade called the deputy commander of the 51st Golani Battalion a “Golanchik ars” during a video conference call.
Ars is a derogatory Hebrew slang term for those who associate with a type of macho culture, and is often used as an ethnic stereotype for working class Israelis of Mizrahi origins.
In response, the deputy commander, a major, threatened to punish any troops who allowed the chief signal operator into the Harsina military outpost near Hebron — where the battalion is currently stationed, according to the probe.
The chief signal operator arrived at the base on Monday afternoon along with the deputy commander of the Yehuda Territorial Brigade — a lieutenant colonel — and attempted to enter the base. The soldier stationed at the entrance told the two officers that they were not approved to enter, the probe said.
The Yehuda brigade deputy commander then called up the 51st battalion deputy commander, who responded that the lieutenant colonel could enter, but not the chief signal operator.
קצין הקשר של חטיבת יהודה כינה את סמג"ד גדוד 51 "גולנצ'יק ערס", בתגובה הסמג"ד הנחה שלא להכניס את הקצין למוצבי הגדוד. כשהקצין הגיע עם הסמח"ט למוצב ליד קריית ארבע, אחד הלוחמים מנע את כניסתם ובמקום החלה קטטה@roysharon11 pic.twitter.com/t8UDTcquuI
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) January 30, 2023
The two argued over the phone, before the senior officer again approached the soldier stationed at the entrance and asked to allow him in with the chief signal operator and other soldiers accompanying him.
The soldier refused and told the officer to move back, and in response, the officer pressed his head against the soldier in an apparent threatening manner, and the soldier responded the same way. In response, the senior officer’s entourage pushed the soldier and spat in his face, the probe said.
The soldier stationed at the entrance radioed in to his company to tell them about the incident. Several soldiers, including the company commander and his deputy, arrived at the scene, and a physical and verbal altercation began.
The soldiers and officers of the company told the Yehuda brigade deputy commander he would not be allowed to enter the base because he allegedly hit the soldier guarding the entrance.
Several minutes later, the 51st battalion deputy commander arrived at the base entrance and allowed the senior officer and his chief signal operator in.
But once inside the base, the senior officer was blocked from reaching a part of the base used by the 51st by a warrant officer from the unit, who told the Yehuda brigade deputy commander that he was not allowed to enter the company’s area in the base, the probe said.
The probe said the senior officer was enraged and grabbed the warrant officer’s hand, and twisted it around, before pushing him against a wall. After seeing the altercation, soldiers from the 51st ran over and jumped on the Yehuda brigade deputy commander, knocking him to the ground, punching him and kicking him.
The chief signal operator and other soldiers of the officer’s entourage fled the scene, leaving the Yehuda brigade deputy commander to be beaten by the soldiers.
“I’m not joking, they choked him, kicked him, the warrant officer punched him… everyone was beating the hell out of him,” one soldier said in an audio recording to his friends, recalling the incident.
The brawl was eventually broken up by the 51st battalion deputy commander.
The extent of the officers’ injuries were not detailed by the military. He did not require hospitalization
“The serious violent incident that happened today in the Yehuda [Territorial] Brigade is being investigated by the commander of the brigade together with the commander of [the] Golani [Brigade],” the IDF said in a statement.