Benzi Gopstein
Benzi Gopstein צילום: אלירן אהרון

Two weeks ago a female soldier at the Michve Alon base wrote to Benzi Gopstein, chairman of the LEHAVA organization, that she and other female soldiers were experiencing ongoing harassment from fellow soldiers. “I’m afraid to walk my base for fear of my life. Today, they pulled my girlfriend’s hand and told her ‘We will not let go of you until you give me your number.’ This is all continuing as if normal.”

“I don’t understand why the IDF, which should be a safe place, has turned into my enemy and the enemy of all the women,” wrote the soldier, in addition to other shocking descriptions of the situation.

In the wake of Gopstein’s publishing the soldier’s comments on his Facebook page, more complaints came in about similar harassment incidents at the base.

Gopstein turned to Deputy Defense Minister, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan to urgently take care of the situation. The minister’s office said that after reviewing the complaint, “It became clear that the soldier in question was not acting in accordance with the norms and values expected of an IDF soldier and was harming another soldier. After investigation, the soldier was tried in a disciplinary hearing for his behavior.”

In the wake of the response, Gopstein said, “I’m happy for the rapid handling of the matter by Rabbi Eli-Dahan. Unfortunately, the soldier was only warned and not punished in any meaningful way. I expect IDF commanders to protect the daughters of Israel and deal with any issues involving harassment of women both as soldiers and as Jews. This incident once again highlights the need for a separation of genders in the army.”

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