IDF soldiers sent to jail over political t-shirts

"I wonder if a soldier who wears a Peace Now shirt would be punished this way," says shirt creator, which denounce settler evacuations.

June 24, 2011 14:51
2 minute read.
Golani soldiers wearing settlement shirts

Golani soldiers wearing settlement shirts 311. (photo credit: Courtesy: Miri Tzahi, Council of Shomron Settlers)

Yair Ben-David, creator of T-shirts that have caused an uproar in the IDF, demonstrated on Friday outside the home of Golani Brigade commander Col. Ofek Buchris for sending his brother to jail for 30 days.

The incident took place Thursday night at a ceremony for soldiers of Golani’s 13th Battalion who had completed their training. The soldiers were pictured wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Golani fights the enemy and does not expel Jews” written on their backs.

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Buchris, who was not present at the ceremony, immediately summoned four out of the 10 soldiers who wore the shirts and sentenced them to jail time for “expressing political opinions,” something soldiers in uniform are not allowed to do.

Ben-David’s brother was sentenced to 30 days since Buchris accused him of knowing of the plan to wear the shirts. The other soldiers were sentenced to 20 and 10 days in jail.

Ben-David said he brought the shirts to the ceremony after seeing soldiers wear them at a different ceremony.

In contrast to original reports, Ben-David claimed Friday that the soldiers did not wear the shirts during the ceremony, and only put them on after the ceremony was completed, they had been discharged to their homes and were standing in the parking lot.

“This was not a political protest,” Ben-David said Friday.

“The soldiers did not show the shirts during the ceremony. They weren’t even wearing them then. They only put them on after the ceremony was finished and they were released home for the weekend.”

As a former soldier from Golani who had served under Buchris, Ben-David said he was surprised by the harsh punishment.

“I wonder if a soldier who wears a ‘Peace Now’ shirt under his uniform would be punished this way?” he asked. “There is also nothing political with what was said on the shirt. I think everyone in Israel will agree with me that Golani’s job is to fight our enemies and not fellow Jews.”

IDF sources said that the incident was under investigation and that if Ben-David’s story turned out to be true – that the soldiers did not intend to make a political statement – then it is possible that Buchris will change the punishments, and possibly cancel them altogether.

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