The Israel Defense Forces said on Monday that it was investigating a video appearing to show reservists using military equipment to protest their release from fighting in Gaza.
“In recent hours, a document has been circulated of reservists protesting while on active reservist service while using military equipment. The actions seen in the video are against orders and have no place in the IDF, neither in routine times nor in wartime. The incident is being investigated,” the IDF tweeted.
Video and photos appear to show protest banners hanging from the Hummer jeeps the reservists were returning to the Tze’elim Base in the Negev after spending three months fighting Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
The banners read: “We were released without subduing [the enemy],” with the Hebrew letter lamed in “lehacria” [“to subdue”] styled in a font similar to that in the Likud Party logo.
According to the TPS news agency, the reservist battalion was withdrawn from the combat zone on Sunday and the signs were seen on Monday morning when the soldiers returned their equipment.
Eighty days after the IDF launched its ground offensive against Hamas, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced last week an official end to heavy combat operations in the northern Gaza Strip.
“The intensive maneuvering phase in the north of the Gaza Strip has ended, and in the south, it will also end soon,” Gallant said last Monday.
“Some three months ago …, we specified the stages of implementation and made it clear that the intensive maneuvering phase will last for approximately three months—in the north of the Gaza Strip, this phase has concluded,” added the defense minister.
According to Gallant, “In the south of the Gaza Strip, we will reach this achievement soon, and in both places, the moment will come when we move to the next phase.”
Last week, the military’s largest regular-service armored division exited Gaza for rest and training, leaving three other divisions fighting Hamas.
Soldiers of the 36th Armored Division, which includes the Golani Infantry Brigade and the 7th and 188th Armored Brigades, concluded their mission in Gaza.
The division’s personnel will be given a brief break from their army service before they return for a period of training, after which the IDF will decide if and where to redeploy them based on operational needs.
Three armored divisions now remain in the Gaza Strip, in addition to special forces. The 162nd Division operates in northern Gaza, the 99th Division remains in the central part of the Strip, and the 98th Division is fighting in the southern Hamas stronghold of Khan Yunis.