IDF soldiers are now banned from protesting on social media, a military committee ruled Sunday night, in light of the recent controversy over accused IDF soldier Elor Azariya, who is standing trial for killing a wounded terrorist in Hevron.
The committee, appointed by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott and including top staff from the IDF's Manpower Division, ruled that protests on social media are tantamount to public protests, Channel 10 reports. The ban effectively bars soldiers from protesting the conditions and policies of the IDF, among any other political issues which may arise.
More than the controversy over Azariya, the ruling follows several high-profile social media campaigns over the past two years launched by IDF soldiers dissatisfied with the system.
In November 2015, a group of soldiers were disciplined for speaking out about their appallingly low wages on Facebook, in which uniformed soldiers were photographed holding signs reading "gam ani hayal" (also a poor soldier) - a play on the Hebrew homophone "ani" meaning "I" or "poor."
In April 2014, the IDF dealt with backlash over discipline it doled out to "David the Nahlawi," a Nahal Brigade soldier who was videotaped by leftist groups cocking his gun at Arab teens in Hevron - after the teens threatened him and placed him in a potentially life-threatening situation.
The video, and the punishment, prompted an unprecedented Facebook protest by tens of thousands of soldiers expressing support for David - as well as strong reactions from MKs, a nod from an army official, and several protests.