Israeli media reported today (Hebrew) that an IDF battalion commander had been accused of sexual misconduct. The report also noted financial irregularities in accounting for donations offered to the unit. This is the same unit which faced an earlier claim of sexual harassment made by two soldiers who said they’d been harassed by their superiors. Attempts were made at the time to suppress news of the incident, which were exposed two weeks ago.
There is a gag order in place in Israel forbidding the naming of the commander. But my source informs me his name is Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi and he commands the Tzabar battalion. Hajbi is accused of directing two of his subordinates to reserve a guest house at Kibbutz Tze’elim (in the northern Negev not far from Gaza) for himself and a female subordinate, during the Gaza fighting of last summer. He’s also suspected of harassing his office manager, who fled the base and eventually transferred to another unit.
Two members of the battalion committed suicide. One had been videotaped engaging in an indecent assault in a base rest room and his superiors published the video. Shaming him in this way contributed, according to members of his unit, to his suicide. When four weapons were stolen from the armory, the supervisor was investigated for the theft. Before he could be charged he too committed suicide.
When the Hajbi’s deputy went up the chain of command to complain about the suspicious activities he was told not to intervene. When he appealed even higher, he was relieved of his post for insubordination.
Another military source told Yisrael Hayom that the unit operated like a criminal organization with a distinct ‘criminal code of conduct.’
Though doubtless the reporter didn’t see the irony in this–he was told by an IDF source that these incidents were “norms unknown to the IDF,” and that they suggested a “collapse of basic values.” It’s arguable whether this is true in terms of how the IDF treats its own (given regular scandals involving sexual improprieties and suicides), but certainly a direct contradiction to how the IDF treats Palestinian civilians.
Hajbi’s family name indicates he is of Yemenite ethnic background.