Some IDF soldiers are in hot water for using their weapons as “noisemakers” during the reading of the Megillah on Purim. A video shown on Channel Ten last week got the attention of IDF commanders, who threw the book at the soldiers, members of an officers' course – and sentenced them to 31 days in the brig.
The incident occurred last Sunday, as soldiers listened to the Megillah (Scroll of Esther) being read on their base. The Megillah tells the story of how the evil Haman tried to commit genocide against the Jews – only to have the tables turned, with him and his ten sons hanged and the Jews decimating Haman's anti-Semitic army.
Traditionally, Jews hearing the story make noise when the name of Haman is read, thus expressing their disdain and contempt for him. The traditional tool used to make noise is the gragger, used specially for Purim – but any noise source will do, and in many synagogues, children use a variety of noisy means to blot out Haman's names, from cap guns to air horns.
Apparently, the video shows, the soldiers decided to take the custom to the next level – using their IDF-issued machine guns to make noise when Haman's name was read. The video, filmed on a cellphone, shows the soldiers pulling the trigger, firing into the air in the direction of an empty field. Observing the goings-on were the soldiers' commanders.
For IDF brass, the video was embarrassing – and judgment was quick to come. The commander was sentenced to 31 days in army jail for allowing the incident to go on, and two of the candidates were thrown out of the course. Other soldiers involved received lesser punishments.
Disagreeing with the sentences was MK Nissim Slomiansky (Jewish Home), who called them “excessive,” even though there was no place for such behavior. In a statement, the IDF said that the actions were “in direct contradiction to the values of the Israeli army.”