Something Bad Is Happening in the IDF

Public deserves to know identity of senior officer whose credit card, weapon were stolen.

The case involving the stolen credit card and gun of a very senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces is the latest affair to shine a problematic light on events there. This case was preceded by a number of controversies that on the face of it are unrelated, but they all show that the army urgently needs a comprehensive organizational shake-up. We have seen the hazing of soldiers in many IDF units, including the Armored Corps, the Nahal and Golani infantry brigades, and the air force; two serious training accidents within 36 hours in which two soldiers were killed; alleged improprieties by two senior officers, Brig. Gen. Imad Fares and Col. Yisrael Danieli; and now the theft from the senior officer.

All these affairs took place in the months after Operation Cast Lead, some of whose operations have not been fully investigated. The IDF, which recently commissioned a wide-ranging survey ranking schools according to the number of graduates who enlist in combat units, needs to correct its failures before it ranks schools and seeks to be a magnet to attract youngsters to elite units. These latest affairs certainly do not help it attain this goal or boost the combat motivation of young people who hear about the hazing and the lies by members of the top brass.

The public deserves to know the identity of the senior officer whose credit card and weapon was stolen. This case has public and criminal elements, and the people have a right to know all the circumstances. The serious negligence that led to the mishap - perhaps the personal negligence of the senior officer himself - must not be swept under the rug. Beefing up security in the officer's bureau - which has now been done - is not enough. Supervision must be stepped up over everything that happens in the IDF.

The is largely the responsibility of the defense minister and chief of staff. These two men, who barely managed to agree on a compromise candidate for deputy chief of staff, must now do their duty and ensure that the IDF is an incorruptible organization that knows not only how to defend the country, but also itself from such embarrassing incidents.