Defense Minister Benny Gantz decided on Wednesday evening that he will not allow the chairman of the Otzma Yehudit Party, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, to meet in the military prison with an IDF soldier who was sent to ten days in prison following his involvement in the incident in Hebron this past Friday.
In a scathing letter to Ben Gvir, Gantz wrote, among other things, "Your conduct is a cynical exploitation of IDF soldiers in a way that arouses disgust. Any political intervention in the issue is completely unacceptable."
Ben Gvir responded to Gantz's letter and said, "The one who takes advantage of IDF soldiers in a cynical manner is Gantz who abandoned them and created a leadership vacuum. When a Defense Minister backs anarchists instead of guarding his soldiers and giving them backup, this causes harm to the army."
Gantz’s letter came after Ben Gvir on Wednesday morning asked to meet the soldier in the military prison. "I don't see anything wrong with the soldier's behavior towards the bullies and I regret the disproportionate punishment that was directed at him. I would like to visit the soldier in the military prison tomorrow and cheer him up," wrote Ben Gvir in his request.
He added, "It is inconceivable that anarchists show up, swear, spit on, attack our heroic soldiers. The soldiers react, you can certainly take them aside and tell them that a more proportionate response or a less proportionate is required, but to send them to prison for ten days? It is unreasonable, it is disproportionate, it is not right, it is inappropriate. Our job is to back our soldiers and I demand that the army think twice about this punishment. It's a very bad message."
Ben Gvir’s request followed the publication of the results of the IDF’s investigation into the incidents in Hebron.
The IDF statement said that “the soldier who expressed himself in an inappropriate manner was suspended from all operational activity until the conclusion of the inquiry. After confessing to his actions, the soldier was convicted as part of the disciplinary proceedings and sentenced to ten days in military prison. On Tuesday, the soldier filed an appeal against the result of the proceedings. Simultaneously, following the detection of a flaw in the disciplinary proceedings, it was decided to order the soldier’s arraignment once more before the Commanding Officer of the Givati Brigade, who convicted the soldier and sentenced him to ten days of confinement in military prison.”
“During his disciplinary trial, the soldier admitted his actions, expressed remorse, and stated that he understood the gravity of the actions and accepted responsibility for committing the crime. The Commanding Officer of the Brigade informed the soldier that he could request a reduction in punishment and that all factors would be taken into account as is customary,” the statement added.