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A Tel Aviv court is examining ways to lessen the sentence against a one-time fighter in the Israel Navy's elite Flotilla 13 commando unit arrested for cultivating marijuana and drug possession, due to the serious health problems he suffers from as a result of his service.

During his time as a Naval commando, the defendant took part in numerous dives in the heavily polluted Kishon river near Haifa. In 2000, it was discovered that dozens of Naval commandos who had dived in the Kishon in the 70s had become stricken with cancer and other diseases at a much higher rate than the general population.

The defendant was arrested a year ago in Tel Aviv when a search of his home found marijuana plants and hashish. He was charged with cultivation of drugs as well as possession of drugs for personal use.

The defendant confessed to the charges against him, but said that his health problems led him to use drugs. The defendant testified that since 2000, his health has declined severely, and he was diagnosed with serious heart problems requiring catheterization. The defendant then testified that he later went through a divorce and now smokes hashish very heavily in order to deal with his terminal condition.

The defendant did not contest the charges during a court appearance in Tel Aviv Monday, and prosecutors are looking for a way to avoid sentencing the defendant, in light of his health condition.