Religious Soldiers
Religious Soldiers Flash 90

A haredi soldier has been sitting in military prison at the Tel Nof air force base for the past three months for desertion over orders to shave his beard.

Army regulations prohibit the growing of beards or the keeping of beards a soldier may have had before enlisting. Exemptions can be given to religious soldiers who consider having a beard part of their religious identity.

Channel 2 reporter Yair Sharky reported this week that the commander of the Tel Nof base decided to review all exemptions allowing the growth of beards on the base, including the exemption which had been given to the soldier now in prison.

The soldier had decided to enlist in the IDF despite the objections of his family, which severed contact with him. He was recognized by the State as a lone soldier and receives financial aid from the Defense Ministry.

The soldier's brother described the sequence of events which led to his brother's imprisonment in an interview with Channel 2.

"My brother enlisted in the IDF with a beard. He received an exemption from shaving his beard and served on the base with a beard for a long time, until the day Col. Roi Ashuri came and decided to revoke the permits granted to haredi soldiers. The rabbi of the base recommended that the exemption [remain] and said that he recognized my brother and prayed together with him at the base's Synagogue. But his commander told him that the rabbi of the base did not matter and he did not accept the recommendation." the brother explained.

When the soldier refused to shave his beard he was sentenced to one week without leave . The base then clarified that he would be tried for refusing an order. He left the base and then gave himself up.

MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) said in response to the incident: "Acts like this transmit the message to the haredi sector that the IDF is clearly trying to change their appearances and not allow them to maintain a haredi lifestyle."

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