IDF spokesman Brigadier-General Ran Kochav has apologized and taken responsibility for an incident that occurred on Shabbat which involved photographers being brought into a military dining hall and taking pictures of the soldiers there, including religious soldiers.
Taking photographs is not permitted on Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, and IDF regulations only permit the breaching of Shabbat laws in cases of life-and-death.
"The incident that occurred at the Ofer camp where a photographer entered while soldiers were eating a Shabbat meal on Friday evening together with the Chief of Staff, was an error, and I apologize," said Kochav. "This was an incident that should not have happened and I take full responsibility. Modeh ve'ozev yeruham," he concluded, using a Jewish expression that means, "The person who admits to his error and corrects his behavior receives mercy."
The gravity of the incident was compounded by the fact that religiously observant soldiers were forced to pose for a photograph together with the Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, in advance of Kochavi's press briefing.
Commenting on the incident, former IDF spokesman Ronen Manelis wrote on Twitter, "I am not the most religiously observant person, but I never saw anything like that happen before."
Galei Tzahal's former IDF-affairs correspondent, Tzahi Devush, also commented on Twitter, "How could something like this happen -- a press conference broadcast live from the IDF dining hall, during Shabbat, with religious soldiers filmed in conversation with the Chief of Staff? Such an incident is also in breach of IDF protocol."
Also taking to Twitter to express his protest was journalist Amit Segal, who wrote, "Why was it so urgent for the IDF spokesman and Chief of Staff Kochavi to film a Shabbat meal with soldiers (including religious ones)?"
The Torat Lehima organization (which promotes religious observance and military service in the IDF) issued a statement saying, "Such an incident, in which the most senior officer in the IDF tramples on the sanctity of Shabbat in the only Jewish army in the world, should never have occurred. The incident also flagrantly breaches General Staff guidelines. What kind of example was set for officers? The Chief of Staff must apologize to his officers and take the lessons to heart."