According to the IDF prosecutor’s office, 37 indictments were issued against soldiers and officers for sex offenses in 2014. This number represents a 40 percent increase in charge sheets filed by the army for sex offenses. In 2013, only 26 such indictments were issued.
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The IDF chief prosecutor, Col. Udi Ben Eliezer, told the army’s Bamahane magazine that “not a single commander knows and turns a blind eye. We don’t need to wait until the next incident: If you see someone sexually harass someone, or act in a sexually inappropriate way with female soldiers, I expect commanders not to keep it to themselves but to come forward and report it. Sometimes we discover that there were large groups of people who knew of an abusive person for a long time, and no one was surprised when an investigation was opened. Commanders must not stand idly by and let these things happen.”
Most of the indictments issued were against officers who committed acts against their subordinates. A colonel was indicted last year for sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior. According to the indictment, the officer proposed that his female subordinates have sex with him “while utilizing his authority over them as their direct commander.”
Recent incidents that took place among Givati Brigade soldiers gave rise to questions about how sexual harassment is handled in the IDF. When six brigade soldiers came forward and complained that their platoon commander had sexually harassed them, the brigade command, as well as GOC Southern Command officials, did not report the incident to the Military Police or the IDF Prosecutor. They chose to reassign the commander after a disciplinary, but not criminal, hearing. Only after the incident leaked to the media was a criminal investigation launched.
IDF statistics from last year further showed that 35 percent of the indictments were for invasion of privacy, for example cases in which female soldiers were observed while showering, or photographed. Seven indictments were issued for obscene acts, and eight were brought for forcibly committing obscene acts. Three indictments were issued last year against soldiers or officers accused of rape.
The IDF’s chief defense attorney, Col. Menashe Asher Halperin, stated that the number of soldiers represented by IDF defense attorneys has also gone up.
At the same time, 2014 saw a 10 percent decrease in the number of Military Police investigations opened into sex offenses – down to 125 from 137 in the previous year. Twenty percent of 2014’s investigations dealt with suspicion of verbal sexual harassment. According to data obtained by Haaretz, Military Police looked into eight possible cases of rape last year.