Commander of IDF's Mixed-gender Combat Unit Suspended for Suspected Relations With Officer

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Lt. Col. Elad Cohen
Lt. Col. Elad CohenCredit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The commander of Israel's mix-gender Caracal combat unit has been suspended for having had a romantic relationship with a subordinate officer. Lt. Col. Elad Cohen has been suspended from his post for a month pending a Military Police investigation. According to military sources, the relationship was consensual.

In 2016, the IDF suspended a number of officers after it came to light they were conducting romantic relationships with soldiers under their command, including an Air Force colonel.

According to IDF data, in 2016, 30 indictments were submitted for sexual offenses and sexual harassment in the IDF. In some of the cases however, the indictment filed was for inappropriate conduct and not for sexual offenses. For example, Givati Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Liran Hajabi, was convicted for inappropriate behavior.

In a 2015 letter to all IDF soldiers, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told them that there is no place in the army for an intimate relationship between a commander and his subordinates.

"In the relationship between a commander and his subordinates, which is based on authority, there is no grey area," he wrote, stating that the army would have zero tolerance for commanders who cross this line.

File photo: Female combat soldiers from one of Israel's mixed gender combat units, during training.Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP

According to figures published in Haaretz, 227 military personnel have been charged with sexual offenses within the army in the past nine years. The figures, collected in 2016-2008, show that 65 percent of the indictments were filed against soldiers in compulsory service, while the rest were against officers, career officers and civilian military employees.

Ofek Buchris, a brigadier general who avoided rape charges and jail time by admitting sexual relations with a woman solider under his command, was sentenced to nine months’ probation in February, along with a demotion to lieutenant colonel.

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