Amitai, a chareidi soldier who refused to remove his beard, is in jail, serving a three-month sentence.
The episode led MK Yaakov Margi of Shas to remark: “Incidents like this send a clear message to the chareidi sector that the IDF wants to alter your external appearance and not allow you to keep a chareidi lifestyle even in the frameworks meant for chareidim.”
“My brother enlisted to the IDF with a beard, received an exemption from shaving, and served on his base with a beard for a long while,” the soldier’s brother told Channel 2. “Until one day Lt. Col. Roy Ashuri came and decided to cancel the leniencies chareidi soldiers enjoy. The rov of the base recommended the leniency for religious reasons. The rov told me that he knows my brother and davened Shacharis and Mincha with him every day at the base shul. But his commander told him the base rov is not the one who decides and that he did not accept his recommendation.”
The brother told Channel 2 that the commander decided that Amitai was not chareidi on the basis of a photo taken at a beach. But the photo was taken at a gender-separate beach, the brother insisted.
Amitai joined the air force in defiance of his chareidi family but is still punctilious in keeping mitzvos. Following his refusal to shave, he was confined to base for a week and then warned that he was about to be put on trial for disobeying an order. This prompted him to go absent without leave for three months. Since giving himself up, he has been jailed for three months prior to a trial where the Military Prosecution is to demand 240 days’ imprisonment.
“I investigated, I checked; he is a chareidi soldier,” said Channel 2 journalist Carmelah Menasheh.