Israel Air Force airplane technician Pierre Yitzchak serves in an air force base. He is a frum soldier and he was sentenced to seven days in jail for refusing an order to shave his beard.
Pierre is from a chareidi family. At some point, he decided to grow a beard. In line with protocol, he signed the necessary forms attesting to the fact the beard is for religious reasons. This was done with the chaplain of the S’dei Dov Base, Rabbi Menachem Alfasi, who approved the paperwork.
However, Yitzchak’s commander, Lt.-Colonel Erez Harel decided not to give his approval, instructing Yitzchak to shave, JDN reports. Yitzchak attempted to explain that his decision was based on his religious beliefs, but to no avail. The order to shave remained with the explanation that failing to comply would land him in jail.
The report quotes the soldier’s father, who states “I personally turned to the office, Lt.-Colonel Harel, but he would not hear of it, citing that in the United States military beards are prohibited and this includes all members of the service. I then asked him to release my son from jail but this request was refused too.”
The soldier was told that upon his release from jail, he will be instructed to shave once again and failure to comply will land him in jail again for a yet undermined period of time.
MK (Shas) Avraham Michaeli has turned to Defense Minister Ehud Barak in an urgent letter in which he writes “It appears to me that during these days with a significant public rift surrounding the share the burden issue, in this case despite the fact a chareidi soldier enlisted and is serving as required and there is no law broken and the actions [on the part of the IDF] are unwise, especially during these turbulent times.”
Michaeli calls on Barak to personally become involved and order the immediate release of the soldier from jail.
At the time of this report, parties involved await the response of the defense minister.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)