When a soldier is injured in the line of duty but can still speak, he is asked to call his family and let them know he's okay and at the hospital.
It's much more reassuring for parents to hear their son's voice on the phone rather than that of a stranger, says Major Reuven Zilka, of Katzin Ha'ir (the administrative office of the IDF's casualty department). Then arrangements are made for the family to be rushed to the soldier's bedside.
If a soldier is injured moderately to seriously, notifying the family as quickly as possible falls under the jurisdiction of Katzin Ha'ir. As when bringing news of a death, they must show up at the family's doorstep to inform them of the terrible news in person.
"If the soldier is hurt badly, we try to bring the family to their son in the hospital as quickly as possible," says Zilka. The problem, he adds, is that the families often refuse to believe the news. "We tell them to get dressed quickly, and sometimes it takes a lot of time because they think their son is dead and that we just don't want to tell them the truth."
There was an incident, admits Zilka, when officers informed a family that their son was badly injured, and by the time they arrived at the hospital, their son was dead. The family, furious, was convinced the army had lied to them, when in reality it was just a horribly unfortunate situation of not making it to the hospital in time.
In what some might call the worst cases, Katzin Ha'ir are also required to notify families if their sons are missing in action. Sometimes the son is found dead hours or even days later or, as Israel learned all too well this summer, it's learned that he's been captured by enemy forces.
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