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29 Kislev 5760 - December 8, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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MK Rabbi Gafni: Much Mistreatment of Religious Soldiers

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

A religious solder serving in the Central Command Tank Corps was sentenced to 28 days in prison after he had merely asked to daven before sof zman tefilla,the time limit for shacharis.

After the soldier had spent eight days in a military prison, O.C. Central Command Brigadier General Moshe Yaalon intervened and ordered his release.

The incident took place last week, when an IDF tank force held maneuvers which began before dawn. The religious soldier couldn't daven before the start of the drill because the time for shacharis had not yet arrived.

The soldier, along with other religious soldiers, planned to start the drill and to daven later, during a break. However when the drill continued until zman shacharis had nearly passed, he told his commander that the religious soldiers should be allowed to daven before it was too late.

The commander repeatedly refused the request, and ordered the soldier to mount his tank.

The commander then called a brief recess, during which he took the soldier directly to the military court. The platoon commander sentenced the soldier to 28 days in the military prison. The soldier was taken to prison immediately after the trial.

The OC Central Command Moshe Yaalon, who heard of the affair, ordered the soldier's release after one week. The IDF spokesman verified these details and said: "The soldier was tried for his refusal to obey an order, due to his refusal to continue participating in the drill, since he hadn't been given time to pray.

"Later on," the IDF spokesman said, "at the end of the drill, the soldier was promised time to pray."

The report ignores, of course, the matter of zman tefilla, although it is included in military regulations. "All procedures relating to prayer services in the unit will be refreshed," the report states.

Rabbi Moshe Gafni noted that there have recently been many cases of mistreatment of observant soldiers. He intends to turn to the Deputy Minister of Defense Ephraim Sneh, and to ask that the IDF publicly explain the reason for the high incidence of such cases. "The IDF must decide whether the army is interested in religious soldiers, or whether it prefers not to draft them" Rabbi Gafni said.

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