IDF officers under fire for gambling on Holocaust trip

JERUSALEM — Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai has ordered an investigation into the behavior of army officers who gambled at Polish casinos during an official visit to Nazi death camps.

Mordechai called for the investigation after army officials admitted that several officers had visited the casinos two or three times during the eight-day trip to Poland.

Israel Radio reported Thursday of last week that most of the 60 officers, who were on a leadership course conducted by the Israel Defense Force's School of High Command, had gone to the casinos.

Some of the officers also played cards during a bus ride to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, the report said.

Brig. Gen. Yossi Raveh, head of the school, said that only seven or eight officers in the group had gone to the casinos.

He expressed regret for their acts, which he said showed poor judgment and insensitivity. But he stressed that they did not characterize the majority of the group.

The report touched off emotional and angry reactions.

On an Israel Radio call-in show the day the story broke, some callers argued that the incident was a disgrace.

Others said the soldiers had been thoughtful and serious during official activities and should be allowed to relax in the evenings.