Ben-Gvir encouraging IDF troop rebellion, Lapid alleges

“The IDF is the people’s army,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. “I call on everyone, from the right and the left, to leave it out of any political debate.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid launched a blistering attack against the incoming right-wing government on Wednesday, accusing lawmakers who criticized a 10-day jail sentence for a soldier, who spoke harshly with left-wing activists, of encouraging troops to rebel against IDF standards and their superiors.

On Tuesday, Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben-Gvir and his party colleague MK Almog Cohen expressed their disapproval of a jail term for an IDF soldier who was filmed in a verbal confrontation with a left-wing group in Hebron, calling the punishment “disproportionate.”

Both expressed concerns that the IDF’s top brass was appearing not to support soldiers on the ground, while acknowledging that the soldier should not have expressed a political opinion during the interaction.

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi expressed outrage over Ben-Gvir’s and Cohen’s remarks on his Twitter account.

“The commanders, and only the commanders, determine the standards and ways of handling incidents in their units,” Kochavi wrote in a tweet, which did not specifically name the two lawmakers but appeared to be directed at them.

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“We will not allow any politician, neither from the right nor from the left, to intervene, command and use the army to promote a political agenda,” he added. “Political interference in the IDF directly harms the army’s ability to carry out its tasks, and its legitimacy.”

Lapid accused Ben-Gvir and Cohen of encouraging soldiers to rebel and disregard orders from their superiors.

“The new government has not yet taken office, and its ministers are already inciting the IDF soldiers against their commanders,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

“The wild incitement led by the [incoming] ministers and MKs against the chief of staff, the [Central] Command officer, and against the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Aviran Alfasi, is dangerous and destructive and is at the head of the new government.”

Alfasi, the commander who handed down the jail term against the soldier involved in the incident, has reportedly faced abusive messages sent to his social media accounts and cell phone.

Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu also weighed in on the controversy.

“The IDF is the people’s army,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. “I call on everyone, from the right and the left, to leave it out of any political debate.”