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Protest over Reduced Sentence

A group of about 150 reserve soldiers have protested to Chief of Staff Gen. Raphael Eytan over his reduction of the sentence imposed by a military court on an Israeli officer convicted of murdering four Arab prisoners during Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon in the spring of 1978. The 12-year prison term originally imposed was reduced to eight years by an appeals court but later cut to two years by Eytan who is empowered to approve or reduce military sentences.

The soldiers expressed grave concern, in a letter to Eytan, about the morale and integrity of the armed forces in light of his action. The matter has also been taken up in the Knesset where a number of MKs have demanded that the Chief of Staff be stripped of his power to reduce sentences determined by a court of appeals.

Eytan himself expressed some criticism of Israeli youth to members of the Knesset Education Committee who were visiting army educational facilities yesterday. He said there was a drug problem in the army and serious suspicion that outside sources were flooding the country and the armed forces with narcotics. He alleged the same was done with the U.S. army in Vietnam.

The MKs were also told by the Chief of Staff that Israeli youth today is not as good as the Zionist-inspired youth of past years. He claimed that Zionist motivation of youth is on the decline in their homes, schools and universities and that few Israeli youngsters today associate themselves with the Zionist youth movements. He proposed that the military’s education branch set up classes in basic Zionism.

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