Seventeen senior Israel Defense Forces combat soldiers of the Golani infantry brigade, stationed at a fort on Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, abandoned their posts on Wednesday claiming that they endured humiliating treatment at the hands of their officers.
The soldiers were court-martialed by their battalion commander and received sentences of one week to 21 days in military prison.
According to the troops, they left the fort due to harassment from their commanders and because they were not afforded conditions "appropriate for senior soldiers."
The soldiers said they were forced to do menial tasks, such as cleaning and guard duty, which they believe should be done by younger soldiers or new recruits.
The father of one of the soldiers told Israel Hayom: "The soldiers screwed up. Things could have been solved differently. There's no reason to pick up and run away."
The father said his son, who along with his comrades enlisted in August 2010, had submitted complaints about the treatment they received from their platoon and company commanders for quite a while prior to the incident.
"The disrespect [they felt] led them to this behavior," said the father. "I hope that the brigade [commanders] will be mature enough to not ban them from combat duty, which is usually the outcome in cases like this. I hope they solve this in a different way."
Incidentally, the soldiers were apprehended by Brigade Commander Col. Yaniv Asor, who was conducting an inspection in the area. Asor reprimanded the soldiers, prompting them to return to their posts.
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit said: "The incident was investigated by the brigade commander, who takes it very seriously, and thus ordered the soldiers court-martialed. The soldiers in question returned to the fort after a short time and expressed regret for their actions. It should be pointed out that at no time was the fort's operational preparedness compromised. In the IDF, as is common practice, the various operational and administrative tasks are distributed equally among the soldiers. The IDF denounces any insubordination."
This wasn't the first time soldiers from the Golani Brigade have left a post in protest of treatment they received. In 2007, 15 soldiers left their guard posts near the Gaza border to protest their living conditions.
The fort on Mount Hermon where the Golani soldiers abandoned their posts is considered one of the most important outposts along the northern border because it overlooks the area where the Israeli, Lebanese and Syrian borders converge.
Meanwhile, the IDF on Thursday released its general enlistment figures, categorized by geographical location of the recruits, from 2012. For the second year in a row, the city of Modiin-Maccabim-Reut produced the highest score, calculated by combining the ratio of enlistees to draft-dodgers, the number of combat soldiers and the number of officers, among men and women from each city.
Modiin-Maccabim-Reut received a score of 63 percent; in second place was Yehud-Neveh Efraim with 59.7% and in third place was Kiryat Ono with a score of 59.1%. Improving the most was Maalot-Tarshiha, which jumped ahead by 27 spots compared to last year, with a score of 58.6%.
Ariel, in contrast, fell 11 spots with a score of 55.9%. The city of Arad dropped the most from the previous year, 15 spots, with a score of 43.3%. Tel Aviv was in 50th place with a score of 47.7%, while Jerusalem finished in 61st place with a score of 35.8%. The ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak finished in last place with only 15%.
According to the IDF's manpower directorate, some 3,000 haredi youths have been processed for enlistment since last August, when the controversial and largely unsuccessful Tal Law, which was intended to increase haredi enlistment, expired.