A female soldier.
A female soldier. Photo by Ilan Assayag
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The number of indictments for sexual offenses in the Israel Defense Forces nearly doubled in 2012.

The number of indictments for sexual crimes jumped from 14 in 2011 to 27 in 2012, an increase of 93 percent, according to figures released by the military prosecution. The last time as many such indictments were filed in the IDF was in 2008, when there were 28. There were 26 indictments in 2009 and 20 indictments in 2010.

In 2011, hundreds of reports were received concerning various forms of sexual abuse – half related to sexual harassment of a physical nature and half related to verbal sexual harassment, said the IDF chief of staff’s adviser on women’s affairs, Brigadier General Rachel Tevet-Wiesel. In 2012, the IDF says reported incidents decreased slightly; but it has not supplied accurate figures.

In 2012, three soldiers lodged complaints concerning severe physical abuse, including rape, attempted rape and sodomy. In all three cases, the soldiers were female. According to Brig. Gen. Tevet-Wiesel’s data, 10 percent of all the complaints concerning sexual offenses were lodged by male soldiers.

One of the most serious sex crimes reported in the IDF last year was at the Israel Air Force's preparatoryschool (“Hatechni”) in Be’er Sheva. The case was publicized in September 2012. Three instructors at the school were arrested on charges of rape, consensual but prohibited sexual relations with a minor and sexual abuse. The victims were all female cadets at the school.

Details of the incident emerged only after one of the school’s instructors, after being released from his mandatory service, lodged a complaint. The army ombudsman passed the complaint on to the Criminal Investigation Division of the IDF’s Military Police, which launched an investigation in conjunction with the Israel Police.

The school’s directors and commanders were unaware that the investigation was in progress. In the end, two instructors were indicted on charges of having committed sexual offenses against female cadets during the time they served as instructors at the school. In a plea bargain, one of the instructors was sentenced to ten months in prison and the other was sentenced to six months of community service in a military context.

In recent months, indictments on charges of sexual abuse have been filed against soldiers, officers and civilians employed on IDF bases. A civilian physician working for the IDF was indicted on charges of rape and sexual assault, an airman in the IAF was convicted of rape and sodomy and a company sergeant first class in the 931st Battalion of the IDF’s Nahal Brigade was convicted of the sexual assault of female soldiers who served under his command.