Top Israeli Air Force commanders voiced dismay over a violent assault on a senior officer perpetrated by a gang of soldiers.
Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot on Monday identified the victim as Maj. A., deputy commander of a squadron at the northern Ramat David Airbase.
A military source said three soldiers, who serve in a technical support unit, assaulted the officer over the weekend after he criticized them for their reckless driving on base premises, in violation of strict military regulations.
The three soldiers, apparently outraged by the pilot's decision to lodge a complaint with their commanding officer, initially threatened to kill him at the presence of his children. They later attacked him outside his home, located on base, with wooden clubs until he nearly lost consciousness.
The squadron commander, accompanied by passers-by, rushed to the scene of the melee and extricated his deputy from what base officials described as "a certain lynch." The pilot was treated at the base medical clinic after sustaining light to moderate wounds, according to the report.
"The officers and families are in shock. No one can believe that soldiers dared to strike a senior officer," an IAF source told Yediot.
"The assailants crossed a red line. We saw evil in their eyes," he said.
Military Police detained the soldiers for questioning and opened an investigation into the incident. A military spokesman said its findings will be submitted to the Military Advocate General for further review.
Senior IAF officers have previously complained about having to deal with soldiers from harsh socioeconomic backgrounds, some of whom are prone to violence and were convicted of felonies and misdemeanors prior to their enlistment.
"With all due respect to the notion of the people's army, my feeling is that the balance has been violated," the commander of a fighter jet squadron said in the wake of the incident.
"I'm forced to invest too much time in solving soldiers' personal problems at the expense of operations ... that has a price and we are paying it," he said.