Four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of gang-raping a female soldier serving with them on the Hatzerim Air Force Base. They were scheduled to appear in military court in Jaffa on Thursday on a prosecution request that their detention be extended.
The female soldier filed a complaint with the Military Police at the urging of her commanders and family. According to the complaint, two weeks ago the four soldiers entered her room on the base and raped her, one after the other.
At least one of the suspects is claiming that the sex was consensual. Attorney Shai Roda, representing one of the suspects, said, “My client claims that the acts were consensual. He admits that there were sexual relations, but they were consensual and he had no indication that she didn’t consent.”
The number of complaints in the IDF relating to sexual offenses has been rising steadily in recent years, with 777 complaints in 2012, 930 in 2013, and 1,073 in 2014.
However, most victims are unwilling to file complaints with the Military Police so that a criminal investigation can be launched. Thus, in 2014 only 125 sexual offense cases were investigated by the Military Police. Eight cases of suspected rape were investigated in 2014, compared to five the previous year. During 2014 there was a 40-percent increase in the number of indictments served for sexual offenses compared to 2013.
The IDF spokesman said, “Upon receipt of the complaint a Military Police investigation was launched and the soldiers arrested. The complainant is being treated by the Treatment and Support Center and is being closely accompanied by her commanders.”
In other case, soldier indicted for rape
In another case, an IDF soldier was indicted yesterday in the Military Court in Jaffa on two counts of rape.
According to the indictment, the soldier first met the alleged victim, a female IDF soldier, in early April in the laundry room at Beit Hashiryon, a guest house for soldiers in Tel Aviv. After asking her to launder his shirt, he persuaded her to go to his room. Because another soldier was there, he then persuaded her to go to her room. The indictment, first made public on Channel 2 News online, states that after telling her of his troubles in the army, he raped her despite her clear protests. The accused soldier’s attorney, Boaz Koenig, said his client, who is a lone soldier in Israel for 18 months, claims the sex was consensual and that the alleged victim filed the complaint after having second thoughts because she had a boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Military Advocate General Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni says he stands behind the plea bargain agreement made with the former battalion commander in the Givati infantry brigade, Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi, charged with sexually harassing one of his female subordinates - even though the former soldier, May Fattal, objects to the deal.
Fattal’s lawyer sent a letter to Efroni asking to present her position to the military court judging Hajbi before the plea deal is presented to the court. Fattal explains in the letter why she objects to the agreement, in which Hajbi will be convicted of improper behavior – and she demands he be tried for sexual harassment.
The present indictment attributes to Hajbi “actions that exceeded relations between a commander and a subordinate, some of which were in a sexual context.” But Fattal describes serial harassment on the part of the officer, saying he unhesitatingly took advantage of his authority in the military hierarchy and did not heed her demands to cease his crude comments and text messages and attempt to kiss her. The indictment was filed at the end of March, and contains five charges.
The IDF says Fattal was shown the agreement with Hajbi and gave her approval, but later changed her mind. She also expressed her objections in a letter sent to the military prosecution at the end of March. Chief Military Prosecutor Col. Udi Ben Eliezer examined the matter, as did Efroni, but they did not change their view on the plea bargain agreement.
The IDF says the indictment against Hajbi was based on Fattal’s testimony to the Military Police, but her lawyer claims neither she nor her client ever signed any agreement, and only after they received the draft of the indictment did they understand that the prosecution has exercised a “legal manipulation,” and the charges against Hajbi included only improper behavior and not sexual harassment.
The military court is expected to hear the case in the next few weeks. The prosecution is expected to ask the judges to demote Hajbi one rank to major because of the seriousness of his actions, but his lawyers plan to fight that request.
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