IDF Ombudsman Report: Increasing Complaints of Violence, Humiliation

IDF Ombudsman received 300 more complaints in 2013 than in 2012; 59.8 percent found to be justified.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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IDF soldiers during a training exercise. The defense establishment says it will have to cut back on training.
IDF soldiers during a training exercise. The defense establishment says it will have to cut back on training.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

A report by the Israel Defense Forces ombudsman published Wednesday shows a slight increase in the number of complaints submitted to the ombudsman’s office last year.

Soldiers, including career soldiers, reservists and young people planning to go into the security service, submitted a total of 7,158 complaints in 2013 − 300 more than in 2012 − of which 59.8 percent were found to be justified.

In one case that reached the ombudsman, an officer of the rank of lieutenant colonel compared the work of a woman NCO serving in his unit to that of the Nazis, who followed orders without understanding their meaning. The officer made these statements to the NCO after she told another officer to wait for an escort before entering a military building, even though he had identified himself to her by name and showed her his officer’s identity card.

In another case, a commanding officer drew his sidearm and placed it on a table after a soldier returning from military prison told him that he did not want to serve in the army and that he intended to harm himself. When the soldier did not react, the commanding officer replaced his sidearm in its holster.

The IDF ombudsman also received complaints about the behavior of prison guards in military jails. For example, in one prison the inmates were required to stand at roll calls lasting hours in the sun without being given water. In another case an enlisted soldier complained that he had been sentenced to jail against the recommendations of a military psychiatrist, and despite his requests, his medication was withheld from him in prison.

The IDF Ombudsman, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak Brik, also criticized the state of sanitation at some army bases on the Golan Heights. He found that many of the rooms were unfit for the soldiers to live in, and in some places raw sewage had burst from its pipes and was flowing freely throughout the base.

The IDF said in response that they are "committed to studying the contents of the report thoroughly and professionally, to learn the necessary lessons, and fix what needs fixing." IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said, "The challenge of commanding has been and remains the responsibility of commanders. It is our duty to control, lead, take care of and nurture and spearhead" how complaints are dealt with.

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