Two days after the release of a video in which an Israel Defense Forces commander appears to force soldiers under his command to roll in their underwear in the snow, the embattled team commander responded on Thursday, saying that, “It was all done in good fun,” Israel’s Walla news reported.
With their commander barking orders, IDF servicemen from the elite “Maglan” unit, conducted a series of firing drills in the snow wearing only military vests, and their underwear.
The release of the video ignited a firestorm within the IDF and has sparked a national debate around the officer’s decision to drill his subordinates in the bitter cold.
A friend of the commander in question, himself an IDF lieutenant, said on Thursday that the unit commander at the center of the controversy is “a highly respected officer. He is a true professional, highly motivated and deeply respectful of the fighters under his charge.” Having spoken to his friend about the incident, the lieutenant relayed that the unit commander never meant to hurt his soldiers and that it was all done in good fun – as a way to create bonds between soldiers and their commander, Walla reports.
However, despite attempts to defend the conduct of the commander, other sources close to the incident have leveled strong criticism against the actions of the unit leader, Walla said. One of the soldiers who participated in the drill insisted that there were soldiers who refused to participate in the exercise because they feared getting sick.
According to the soldier, “Had soldiers taken ill as a result [of this drill], our operational ability would have degraded,” Walla reported.
Other IDF sources expressed concern that not condemning the unit commander’s conduct could set a dangerous precedent for other officers – and soldiers under their command – to follow, Walla reported.