The Israeli military is to punish soldiers involved in a brawl at a training base on Sunday, as well as their commanders.
The incident at the Givanti Infantry Brigade’s Ketziot training base left 21 soldiers injured including eight that were hospitalised and reportedly took place while troops from the Shaked Battalion and the Bedouin 585th reconnaissance unit were standing in line to enter the dining hall for lunch.
“An argument broke out over the entrance line for the meal,” the Israeli military said in a statement regarding the event, which got out of hand due to the “failure of the entire chain of command”.
According to local reports the fracas escalated to the point that one of the soldiers started loading his gun.
The Times of Israel reported that some 30 soldiers took part in the brawl, which lasted roughly ten minutes before the commander of the training class arrived and broke it up.
A second fight ensued at the base’s clinic between two soldiers who had gone there for medical treatment after the initial confrontation. “That was quickly broken up by a commander,” the military said.
The Israeli army said that the brawl was “an unusual and serious incident” and one which is “inconsistent with the IDF’s values and [the] behaviour required from the soldiers”.
Military training at the base is to be suspended until the end of the week for the two battalions involved in the quarrel, according to a spokesperson for the military, with an investigation underway and punitive measures due to be taken.
One commander who witnessed the brawl told Israel’s N12 news channel: “In all my years in the IDF, I have never seen such a dismal event.”
The 585 unit is made up of volunteers from Bedouins and Arab Christians, while Jews, Druze and Circassians are conscripted into the army. According to the Jerusalem Post, an estimated 1,500 Bedouin currently serve in the Israeli army, which has stepped up attempts to recruit Bedouin soldiers, despite a continued policy of demolishing “unrecognised” Bedouin villages in the south.