The Defense Ministry's legal department has been circulating a letter which states that anyone who insults a soldier – including soldiers from the hareidi religious community – is subject to a sentence of six months in prison and a fine of up to NIS 250,000 if convicted. The contents of the letter were revealed Monday by the hareidi-oriented web site Kikar Shabbat.
The letter was issued in response to a law that Likud MKs were set to introduce. It was addressed to Yaakov Vider, head of the Likud's “hareidi desk,” and a proponent of a law that would penalize those who insulted hareidi religious soldiers. The law is aimed at members of hareidi religious communities who have allegedly insulted and attacked members of their communities who joined the Nahal Hareidi IDF units designed specifically for hareidi youth.
Vider actively pursued enacting the law, helping to write it and convincing MKs to sponsor it. But in the letter he received from the Defense Ministry's Attorney General's office, Vider was told that there was no need for a new law; laws were already on the books to prevent insulting IDF soldiers, and the Ministry would make sure they were enforced.
“The law is very clear,” the letter said. “Anyone insulting an IDF soldiers, whether verbally, through actions, or gestures, is subject to penalties, including jail time and up to NIS 258,000 in compensation.”
In recent months, hareidi religious soldiers have reported that they were told to stay away from their synagogues and communities while they were wearing uniforms. Several soldiers reported being spit at and physically assaulted.