New IDF Report Reveals Systemic Problems Harming Soldiers' Service

IDF Soldiers' Complaints Commission 2010 report shows increase in number of complaints brought before the Commission for that year.

Systemic problems within the IDF are negatively affecting soldiers' service conditions, according to the IDF Soldiers' Complaints Commission 2010 report. Of the slightly increased number of cases brought before the Commission - from 6,100 in 2009 to 6,389 in 2010 - 55 percent were found to be justified.

Of the cases brought before the Commission in 2010, 33 percent of the complaints were related to "commander-officer relations," including cases of "undermining of soldiers' dignity," the report said. 12 percent of the complaints were about "medical treatment," 8 percent were about conditions of service and 7 percent about payment issues.

Majdal Shams IDF - Yaron Kaminsky
Yaron Kaminsky

The report highlighted some worrying incidents of "commander-officer relations." In one case, a base commander regularly beat a soldier, insulted him in public and threatened to release him from service on mental health grounds.

In another case, a female soldier was told by an officer with the rank of major that she was "a failure" and "worth nothing." Another female soldier serving the obligatory two-year military service for Israeli citizens complained that an officer wrote scathing and humiliating things about her on Facebook. In another incident, a senior commander sent a threatening text to a soldier who was serving as his driver.

On presenting the report to President Shimon Peres on Wednesday, Soldier's Complaints Commissioner Retired Major General Yitzhak Brick said that it was part of his job to "deal with the reasons behind these incidents."

"Two years and a half years ago, when I took on this role, I decided that I would not only deal with complaints, even if I was to collect thousands of complaints, this would not solve any problems," he said. So far, his activities have resulted in the dismissal of 30 commanders and officers, including three doctors.

Brick added that visits to the different IDF divisions had revealed a number of problems that he has now reported to senior IDF commanders, issues that are highlighted in the 2010 report. This included poor conditions of service for female soldiers manning look-out posts on the border and in the West Bank, who suffer a lack of access to medical treatment, poor living conditions and work within an unclear command structure.

Since he took on the position, Brick added, he has seen certain improvements, such as the IDF's efforts to increase the number of doctors available for soldiers on army bases.

IDF: We will learn lessons from the report

In response, the IDF spokesman said that the IDF has a duty to learn the lessons of the report and to fix the problems it highlights. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz nominated Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Naveh, to deal with the issues raised by the report and to keep him updated on developments with the process. Finding a solution to these problems and improving soldiers' service conditions calls for powerful and influential tools, Gantz said.