(photo credit: Channel 10)
Col. Erez, commander of the Nevatim Air Force Base where a 14-year-old girl allegedly had sex with dozens of soldiers over the past year, resigned his command on Thursday to OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy.
Shkedy accepted the resignation, claiming that while the base commander was definitely not involved in the affair, his request to resign from his post following the investigation demonstrated a high-level of ethical commitment to his job as a commanding officer.
Col. Erez's request followed publication of the interim Military Police report on the investigation which found that the base commander was not a suspect and that no evidence had been found connecting him to the events. It was unclear if he would remain in the service.
"The base commander's request demonstrates for me a unique and ethical approach to service as a commanding officer," Shkedy wrote in a letter distributed on Thursday to all IAF commanders. "The taking of responsibility by the officer and the request to complete his service just because the events occurred on the base he commanded, even when the investigation does not find him guilty of the events, is a worthy action which I hold in the highest regard."
In what has been described as the worst sex scandal in IDF history, the Military Police began an investigation in April into allegations that close to 50 IAF servicemen on the Nevatim base in the South had sex a 14-year-old girl, the daughter of a career airman who lived on the base.
The sexual relations, the IDF said, began 18 months ago when the girl was 13. Under interrogation, the soldiers confessed to having sex with her but claimed she told them she was 16 - a legal age for sex. The girl, a high-ranking IAF officer said, was not paid for the sex and admitted to sleeping with the soldiers with her full consent.
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz instructed the Military Police to continue its investigation and to bring the soldiers guilty of statutory rape to justice.
"Events that cast doubt on the morality and ethics of soldiers cannot be allowed to happen in the IDF," Halutz said. "We will continue to uncover the anomalies and to seek justice."
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