Aviv Kochavi lights Hanukkah candles alongside Or Nechamia
Aviv Kochavi lights Hanukkah candles alongside Or NechamiaIDF spokesperson

The Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi, lit the candles for the third night of Hanukkah at the Logistics Corps Training Base (Instructional Base 6) with the Head of the Technological and Logistics Directorate (J4), MG Mishel Yanko, Advisor to the Chief of the General Staff on Gender Affairs, BG Ella Shedo, and Commander of the Logistics Corps Training Base, COL Erez Steiner.

As part of the candle-lighting ceremony, the Chief of the General Staff spoke with female commanders and soldiers at the Logistics Corps Training Base regarding serious offenses committed by an officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on the training base, who, in tandem with the legal proceedings against him, was relieved of his duties Monday night.

The candle-lighting ceremony was led by the Chief of the General Staff together with Logistics NCO, SSF Or Nechemia, who spoke about the incident.

At the event, Kohavi said: “I sympathize with you and wish you continued strength. This is an unacceptable, serious and indecent incident. It is a disgrace for any person to act this way, tenfold when it comes to an officer or commander. Any form of verbal or physical harm, or any invasion of privacy, is extremely serious and unacceptable in our eyes. We have in place a ’zero tolerance’ policy for these cases and, as evidence of this, the arrested officer has been permanently removed from his position and will stand trial in court.”

“We are making great efforts to create a safe space in all IDF units through dissemination and case-studies, a thorough review process and encouraging the use of reporting mechanisms. Next week, there will be a pause in activity throughout the army, and the whole army will discuss raising awareness and the handling of cases of this kind.”

He added: “One of the most serious aspects of this incident is the breach of our code of conduct for commanders. A code of conduct which is based on trust, concern for soldiers and the instilling of confidence in soldiers to trust their commanders and to be assured that they are people with a high moral standard. The true test of this is for every soldier to be able to feel at home when they are in the IDF, and that was not the case in this incident. In this sense, every commander is as if they are a parent to their soldiers. That is the atmosphere we need in the army, and we will continue to promote these principles.”

“This is an example of the influence every soldier has on the culture, on the unit and on the IDF. There are those who turn their head in ignorance and perpetuate the negative culture, and those who respond to any serious event and uproot that negative culture. It is through dialogue, personal conversations and punitive measures that we will achieve this culture change. We all have a stake in promoting the right kind of culture of safety in the IDF.”

“In the vast majority of IDF units, there is an atmosphere that very quickly condemns incidents like this, but these such incidents do still occur, and you have experienced this firsthand. I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation. You have done the right thing, a brave action. You serve as an example and a role model. I offer my support to all the other women who were harmed, and wish you continued strength. Thank you all very much.”

Logistics NCO, Sergeant First Class Or Nechemia, said: “It is a miracle that we stand against this together while celebrating Hanukkah. It is not a coincidence that this has happened now. I want to wish all the women who were harmed that the candles I light now will light their way forward. We will persevere, and there will always be light at the end of the tunnel.”