Hebron ‘Gangnam Style’ video the latest social media misstep for young Israeli troops

August 30, 2013

JERUSALEM -- Even with war looming in this part of the world, some Israeli soldiers are still finding time to party.

On Wednesday night, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that a unit of soldiers is facing disciplinary action after it was revealed that they joined in the celebrations Monday at a Palestinian wedding in Hebron after hearing the catchy smash hit "Gangnam Style" playing through an open door. The soldiers, members of the Givati Brigade, were on a routine patrol but could not resist a quick dance with guests.

While it was a seemingly innocent, even friendly gesture, a statement released by the Israeli army Thursday stated: “The IDF views this as a serious incident. The soldiers exposed themselves to unnecessary danger and were disciplined accordingly."

The incident, which was apparently filmed on a smartphone, happened just hours after Palestinians and IDF soldiers clashed near the Qalandiya checkpoint, leaving three Palestinians dead and the future of the current peace talks uncertain.

The report also comes as tensions heighten over a possible U.S.-led military strike against neighboring Syria and as the Israeli government approved a limited call-up of reservist troops over fears of possible reprisals from Syria or its allies.

Despite the war talk, one YouTube viewer wrote after watching the Palestinian-Israeli take on "Gangnam Style": “As an Israeli, this video reflects a lot more on my views and my wish for peace :).”

The incident is the second recent Israeli army gaffe exposed by social media. In June, two incidents of young female soldiers parading around their barracks in lingerie and army-issued rifles spread on social media. Another video, also shot in Hebron in 2010, shows a unit of soldiers rocking the casbah (central square) to Keisha’s hit song "Tik Tok" while on patrol.

Such incidents are not so surprising, given that Israel has compulsory conscription for most of its citizens at age 18. Still, the Israeli army -- which prides itself on its prowess and ethics -- takes such antics very seriously and lately has clamped down on social media usage.

Ruth Eglash is a reporter for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.
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