Had He Kissed a Civilian

It would have been impossible to wipe away the kissing incident as though it had never happened.

The investigation and trial of former justice minister Haim Ramon enabled those believing in conspiracy theories to recycle old fears regarding the existence of a secret cult of policemen and attorneys working, with the approval of judges, against politicians threatening to air out the stuffy hallways of the legal system. The fictitious idea that a dozen officers and attorneys decide, with a twist of their thumb, the future of a minister is ridiculous to those who know about the gray reality: Those involved in making these decisions tend to shake like leaves on a tree, in case they crash in court.

It is very possible that had Ramon kissed a civilian and not a soldier, the matter would have unfolded differently. His choice of a young woman dressed in uniform gave the story a different direction. In early July 2006, several days before the kissing incident, IDF officials assessed data collected over the previous six months and reached a troubling conclusion: "There is a significant increase in the number of reported cases of rape perpetrated against female soldiers," read the General Staff secret document. According to the numbers, this was not merely an increase but a threefold rise. "During the first half of 2006, there were 10 reports of rape of soldiers in the army, and 18 reports of rape of soldiers outside the army, compared to all of 2005, in which there were six reports of rape of soldiers in the army, and 13 reports of rape of soldiers outside the army. The instances of rape of soldiers in the army occured mostly on duty on Saturdays; in some instances the male and female soldiers involved consumed alcohol before the reported incidents. The instances of rape outside the army occured mostly during, or after, a night out or a party on a Friday or Saturday night. Usually the soldier did not know the rapist."

The IDF has also learned that there was frequent use of the "rape drug" - a colorless, tasteless and odorless material that is poured into the victim's drink. The victim entirely loses her memory for a few hours "during which the rape occurs, and afterward the victim finds herself in a dark alley and has no recollection of what transpired in the past few hours." Officers were asked to brief female soldiers to drink from closed containers, "not to go alone to isolated areas, such as bathrooms, to emphasize a ban on hitching rides and to avoid being alone with a man whom they do not know."

The rape of a soldier must be immediately reported by telephone, at any time of the day or night, followed by an immediate interview with the soldier who must then be rushed in an IDF vehicle to the nearest emergency room. "The speed of treatment in an rape incident is critical for the prevention of pregnancy, the collection of evidence and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Consultation with a Military Advocate General attorney is mandatory."

H., the soldier who Ramon kissed, served in the office of the military secretary of the prime minister, Major General Gadi Shamni.

Female soldiers serving in a civilian and political environment is an old and flawed practice: This is a job for civilians. Her commander, the director of Shamni's office, heard H.'s emotional description and acted according to military regulations. She informed Shamni, and called the only police officer she knew, Major General Yohanan Danino, who formerly held a position at the office of the public security minister - Shamni's police counterpart.

Danino listened, without knowing who the minister in question was - his identity became known to Danino and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz only after the order was given to embark on an investigation - and explained the legal context of their conversation. "I am the head of investigations and intelligence," he said, "and my duty is to relate to what you told me as the report of a crime. From the minute you called me, this is an official complaint, and I cannot hide this information."

Danino was contacted by the Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit, chief military advocate general, and by the adviser to the chief of staff on women in the army, Brigadier General Dvora Hasid.

It would have been impossible to wipe away this incident as though it had never happened. And so, the investigation, which to the surprise and embarrassment of the investigators involved the justice minister, was on its way and will be concluded with a ruling next week. There was no conspiracy here.