A video that circulated on social media platforms on Tuesday showed soldiers from the IDF Paratroopers Brigade taking part in enforcing a protest in front of the Knesset and caused an uproar in the political system.
“Deploying IDF soldiers to the Knesset, in front of citizens who wish to protest in a democratic manner and to fight against the erosion of the freedom of speech, is a dangerous act! I call for an urgent meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to determine who’s responsible for this,” MK Moshe Ya’alon (Yesh Atid-Telem) posted on Twitter.
In a video distributed on the Internet, one woman is seen saying to the soldier, “Why are you wearing a police vest? You’re from the army, aren’t you ashamed? With a red beret, yet; aren’t you ashamed?
“The army’s ours, not the police’s. Shame. You should refuse orders. Just be ashamed of yourself, just be ashamed. You won’t argue with me, I’ll argue with you, I’ll embarrass you, you’re a soldier in the IDF,” she added.
שמאלניות אנרכיסטיות מטרידות ומקללות חיילים ושוטרים במחסומים… 😡
בושה וחרפה!!! pic.twitter.com/Wc0HjZNNmj
— Moti Tal (@Mot_Tal) September 29, 2020
Former MK Miki Rosenthal also addressed the issue on Twitter.
“I see IDF paratroopers on Jerusalem’s streets and I’m horrified. Our soldiers shouldn’t be oppressing anti-government protests. It is unfitting for the military to take sides in this important civil dispute,” Rosenthal wrote.
Gonen Ben-Itzhak, one of the most dominant figures leading the protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that “there were some images that we had hoped not to see. Soldiers stopping vehicles in Jerusalem, near the Knesset, is one of them.”
Opposing those voices, MK Dudi Amsalem (Likud) wrote: “The privileged masters of the land, heading to Balfour with their fancy jeeps from north Tel Aviv and the Kibbutzim, are degrading and humiliating our soldiers and the Israel Police. Watch the video and see how low the leftist anarchists have gone. It’s a disgrace!”
The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit issued a statement in response, condemning any form of disrespect or blunt behavior shown to soldiers who are assisting the Israel Police.
“We emphasize that the soldiers are operating in accordance to government decisions and as part of the nationwide effort of combating the coronavirus pandemic,” the statement read.
Defense minister Benny Gantz addressed the incident later on Tuesday, admitting that it was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened.
“The government determines the policy. Leave the police and the IDF out of the political discussion. Police forces deployed day and night across the country are doing important work with IDF soldiers at their side,” Gantz wrote on Twitter.
“I strongly condemn the attempts by a few to attack them while they do their jobs. However, deploying IDF troops near protests was a mistake that has been dealt with and will not repeat itself,” he added.