IDF Report Reveals Serious Abuse of Soldiers by Commanding Officers

Annual report of the IDF Ombudsman reveals the army received 6,100 complaints from soldiers, 60% of which were justified.

Yuval Azoulay
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Yuval Azoulay

The annual report of the IDF Ombudsman, which was served to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday, has revealed serious cases of mistreatment of soldiers inside the Israel Defense Forces.

The report included cases of abuse and humiliation of IDF soldiers by their commanders and inadequate medical treatment in IDF medical clinics.

IDF soldiersCredit: Alon Ron

The Ombudsman report revealed that 6,100 complaints were lodged by soldiers against their commanders in 2009, a decrease of 400 complaints from 2008. Of the 6,100 complaints lodged, 60 percent of the complaints were found to have merit by the IDF Ombudsman.

In one incident cited in the report, a commander in one of the IDF's combat units attacked a soldier who wasn't feeling well by forcefully kicking him in the chest. The IDF Ombudsman found that the battalion commander knew of the incident but responded apathetically and only chose to investigate the incident two months after the fact, following inquiries by the IDF Ombudsman.

"Unfortunately, the regiment commander did not take any steps to correct the situation until the office of the Ombudsman intervened. This type of response shows his soldiers weakness and disinterest, and surely isn't conducive to trusting relations between soldiers and their commanders," the report read.

Another case revealed a suicidal soldier who told the deputy commander of his company that he was having a hard time in his post, and threatened to harm himself if he wasn't transferred to a different post. The deputy commander then handed him a knife and said: "Come on, let's see if you are able to hurt yourself." The soldier then proceeded to cut his hand with the knife. The Ombudsman condemned the mistreatment of the soldier and said that several other similar incidents occurred.

The report also revealed defective medical services offered to soldiers. "Unfortunately, the reality on the ground shows that soldiers are made to wait for lengthy periods of time for general and expert doctor appointments," the report read.

The report found that soldiers typically waited between two to three weeks for a routine checkup, and in cases of emergency, soldiers would wait for many hours.

One combat soldier with a viral infection had to wait three months to see a doctor and four months to receive medication for his infection.

In another incident, a soldier was brought to the military clinic after getting bitten by a yellow scorpion. Even though orders obligate the doctor to refer the patient to the nearest hospital, the doctor instructed the paramedic to give the soldier an infusion and painkillers because the doctor was sleeping and didn't want to get out of bed.

An IDF spokesperson said in a response that the IDF had received the report and is committed to studying its contents carefully, learning the necessary lessons and to making up for wrongdoings.

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