IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi Flash90

Over two weeks later, the IDF Chief of Staff's office has finally commented on a severe breach of IDF regulations and desecration of Shabbat (the Sabbath) that occurred in the Ofer military camp, when religious soldiers were forced to pose for photos with the Chief of Staff during a Shabbat meal and the Chief of Staff also gave a press conference on the holy day, when such activities are prohibited.

The Chief of Staff has now apologized to the soldiers concerned, and his office wrote a letter to the Torat Lehima organization, saying that, "It was a mistake for us to have filmed and broadcast the Chief of Staff's words during Shabbat, and the Chief of Staff has apologized to the officers and soldiers of the brigade."

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Torat Lehima wrote to the Chief of Staff's office, saying: "We have no doubt that you are engaged in holy work, protecting Israel's security day and night, Shabbat and throughout the week, and the Jewish People has the greatest of admiration for you. It is precisely for this reason that we were so horrified to learn that you had chosen to desecrate the Shabbat with clear instructions that also breached IDF rules, also forcing religious soldiers to desecrate the holy day themselves."

The organization added that, "You must verbalize your apology. Serve as a role model of an officer who has self-respect and also respects his soldiers - and as someone who can admit to having erred. In such a case, our Sages teach that one's sins are transformed into good deeds, even if the sins were committed maliciously and certainly if they were committed in error. May the merit of Shabbat observance combine with your other merits and the merits of the entire IDF - the merits obtained by coming to the aid of the Jewish People and protecting the State of Israel."

Following Kochavi's apology, Torat Lehima told Israel National News: "We hope very much that such a blatant instance of Shabbat desecration will not happen again. The Chief of Staff demonstrated greatness of spirit in admitting to this grave breach. May the observance of the holy day according to Jewish Law (and also according to IDF regulations, as an aside) serve as a merit for IDF soldiers and officers who risk their lives for the sake of Israel's security, on Shabbat and throughout the week."