Israeli Army Reports Rise in Sexual Harassment Claims, Decrease in Investigations

Number of reported incidents has increased every years since 2012, but fewer women are pursuing legal action.

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Women soldiers in the IDF.
Women soldiers in the IDF.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

There is a worrying rise in reports of sexual harassment in the military, Israeli army's head of human resources said.

Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolansky, head of manpower directorate, warned of the trend in a letter he sent to adjutant officers recently, also pointing out that fewer women are going as far as to pursue legal action by making official complaints of sexual harassment to the Military Police.

Topolansky’s letter was made public Monday night on Channel 10 News.

In 2012 there were 777 reports of sexual offenses in the army. In 2013, that figure rose to 930 and in 2014, it was 1,073.

Reports are filed at a special sexual-offense crisis center operated by the military. The center calls on male and female soldiers to report such offenses, whether they take place on base or off, during their military service or before.

Despite the rising number of complaints, military police investigations of sexual offenses has remained stable over the years – between 125 and 144 cases a year for the past seven years. 

Last year did see a rise in the number of reports of rape that were investigated by the military police. Twelve rape complaints led to investigations being launched by the military police in 2015, compared to eight in 2014 and five in 2013. 

Last year a legal aid unit was established to assist soldiers who are victims of sexual offenses. The first time the unit’s attorneys provided assistance was in the case of the woman who lodged a complaint of sexual offenses by Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris, who has now been indicted with 16 counts of serious sexual offenses, including rape.

The Army Spokesman’s Officer responded: “Every three months, the head of human resources issues a letter to all officers with the rank of major and above under his professional responsibility, dealing with relevant issues on the agenda. The IDF considers sexual attacks very serious and invests many resources in uprooting the phenomenon.”

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