Israeli Military Chief: All Off-duty Combat Soldiers Must Carry Their Weapons

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Israeli Border Police forces at the site of the Sha'ar Binyamin terror attack, Feb. 18, 2016.
Israeli Border Police forces at the site of the Sha'ar Binyamin terror attack, Feb. 18, 2016.Credit: AFP

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot ordered that all off-duty IDF combat soldiers must carry their personal weapons in response to the recent violence, specifically following last week's terror attack at a West Bank supermarket.

Earlier Monday, Nahal Brigade Commander Colonel Amos Hacohen ordered a review of the unit's regulations regarding the carrying of weapons while on leave, following the death last week of one of the unit's soldiers.

Off-duty Staff Sergeant Tuvia Yanay Wieseman, who held U.S. citizenship, was stabbed to death in a terrorist attack on the Rami Levy supermarket in the Sha'ar Binyamin industrial zone last Thursday.

Wieseman had deposited his personal weapon in the base armory, in accordance with orders from his commanding officer, before leaving on vacation.

The brigade's review will look into the specific case of Wiesman as well as the general issue of whether soldiers should carry weapons when not on duty.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said that the army "participates in the grief of the family and will continue to assist it."

He added that the review was begun "following issues raised in the past few days" over the carrying of weapons.

Wiesman's friends said that he had asked his commander in the brigade's 50th Battalion to take his weapon with him when he went on leave but his request was refused.  

The brigade commander's investigation will deal with his brigade only and will not be applicable to the entire IDF.

According to military policy, soldiers in different stages of their training and service usually do not take their weapons with them when on leave, out of concern that they may be stolen or used to commit suicide.

The number of soldiers allowed to go home with their weapons was drastically reduced in 2006, following a dramatic rise in suicides involving the use of military weapons. A subsequent study by the army's mental health division found that the order had reduced the incidence of suicides by 40 percent.

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