IDF officer removes LGBTQ+ Pride flag in northern Israel

The IDF stated that the officer's behavior "does not reflect the values of the IDF."

Pride flag at Jerusalem Pride march, June 2021 (photo credit: GAL GASHMA)
Pride flag at Jerusalem Pride march, June 2021
(photo credit: GAL GASHMA)

An IDF officer was filmed removing an LGBTQ+ Pride flag that had been put up by the Emek Hayarden Regional Council in a roundabout in northern Israel on Thursday.

The video, shared on Facebook by Yinon Arev Ramati, the holder of the LGBTQ+ portfolio in the regional council, showed the IDF officer and another man walking away from the roundabout holding the flag and the flag pole. The two refused to state their names.

About an hour before the video was posted, the Emek Hayarden Regional Council had posted a photo showing the flag being raised at the roundabout.

"LGBTQ-phobia cannot be part of IDF values."

Agudah - The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel.

Disrespectful conduct

"This year, an IDF officer uprooted the flag and lowered the flag with another person," Ramati told Walla news. "The municipal employee who filmed the video tried to get their details or at least get the mast back from him - but the officer took the mast with him. "

LGBT flag on Jerusalem's King George Street, July 31, 2018 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)LGBT flag on Jerusalem's King George Street, July 31, 2018 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

"The employee tried to talk to them, but of course they did not talk to him," added Ramati. "The council may file a complaint against them. We are trying to reach out to all sorts of elements in the IDF to understand who the officer is and remove him from his position."

This is the fourth year in a row that the flag has been forcibly removed, with the Emek Hayarden Regional Council telling Israeli media that "such hostility has never been seen."

"During the afternoon, the Pride flag was removed twice, after it was raised this morning by Council Chairman Idan Greenbaum together with the LGBTQ+ community portfolio holder, Yinon Arev, in the main square at Tzemach Junction. In the second instance, in a joint operation by a soldier in an IDF uniform and another person, the duo did not just lower the flag but also sabotaged the flagpole, all this in defiance and in front of the cameras."

The council stated that it had filed a complaint with the police and took the acts "very seriously".

Against IDF values

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit responded that the officer's behavior "does not reflect the values of the IDF," adding that the incident is being checked, according to KAN.

"LGBTQ-phobia cannot be part of IDF values," said the Agudah - The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel. "The fact that the act of vandalism was committed by a uniformed officer shows a serious loss of values. One can only wonder how the same officer who insisted on violently lowering a pride flag treats his LGBTQ+ soldiers. We expect the IDF to investigate the act and bring the officer to justice."

At 7 a.m. on Friday, the head of the Emek Hayarden Regional Council will launch Israel's largest Pride flotilla in the Kinneret. Over 200 participants are expected to take part in dragon boats, sailboats and kayaks.

A happening for families will also take place on Saturday and a performance by singer Harel Skaat will take place later on Saturday in Beit Gabriel.