Knesset to Address Rise of Complaints of Sex Assaults in IDF

'It cannot be that the Knesset has nothing to say on the issue,' says Yesh Atid MK in wake of Haaretz report on increasing reports of sexual assault in the army.

FILE PHOTO: Female Israel Defense Forces' soldiers
Olivier Fitoussi

In the wake of a Haaretz report last month on the rise in the number of complaints of sexual assault filed by members of the Israel Defense Forces, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will debate the issue Monday, at the request of Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie.

The number of complaints rose by nearly 20 percent in 2016 from the previous year, according to data that was collected by the army’s center for the victims of sexual assault.

Lavie, together with MKs Sharren Haskel (Likud) and Merav Ben Ari (Kulanu), asked IDF representatives to present the committee with figures and with the military’s plan for reducing sexual assaults.

In 2016 there were 802 reported incidents of sexual assault in military circumstances (on bases or among service members), up from 686 in 2015, for a rise of 17 percent.

There was also an increase in reported sexual assaults in civilian circumstances (such as sexual assault within the family, during leave from the army or prior to military service), to 527 in 2016, compared to 415 in the previous year.

Around half of the complaints of sexual assaults in military circumstances last year were against officers — one-fourth of them at a major’s rank or above.

Not all of the reported sexual misconduct involved offenses that could be prosecuted as crimes.

“In recent years there has been a worrisome rise in the number of reports of sexual abuse, and it cannot be that the Knesset has nothing to say on the issue,” Lavie said.

“A major part of dealing with this is awareness of the phenomenon, which is why it is so important for the Knesset and the army to conduct regular discussions on the issue,” she said.