Chief IDF defense attorney: sexual harassment 'not a phenomenon’ in IDF

“Commanders who have dedicated their entire lives to the military system find themselves in danger of getting fired or facing financial ruin for complaints about minor actions."

By MOR SHIMONI/MAARIV
September 2, 2019 14:24
2 minute read.
Chief IDF defense attorney: sexual harassment 'not a phenomenon’ in IDF

IDF medical officers take part in a drill (Illustrative). (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Col. (ret.) Ran Cohen addressed the topic of sexual harassment in the IDF during a retirement interview on the legal website Orech Din on Monday morning, claiming that “it’s not really a phenomenon.” He added that “the IDF overreacts sometimes when trying to balance the rights of officers and the need curb incidents of sexual harassment.

“I don’t think it’s right to say that sexual harassment is a phenomenon in the IDF,” he clarified. “The IDF sends a clear message about these kinds of actions. I think that anachronistic stigmas cause the IDF to work diligently and sometimes even overreact to these kinds of actions when trying to balance the rights of officers and the need curb incidents of sexual harassment. There is no controversy regarding the need to take swift, harsh action against sexual harassment.

“On the other hand,” added the IDF’s chief defense attorney, “commanders who have dedicated their entire lives to the military system find themselves in danger of getting fired or facing financial ruin for complaints about minor actions and even consensual sex. It’s important to not lose proportions even while fighting for a respectful and proper workplace.”

In the same interview, he noted that soldiers get punished more harshly than civilians for the same crime, and claimed the IDF arrests soldiers too easily, and sometimes unjustly. “When compared to a civilian who didn’t enlist – a soldier is at a much more serious risk of harsher enforcement of, for instance, cannabis consumption. The soldier will be arrested, interrogated, indicted and punished. He will be sent to prison and and have a criminal record haunting him through his civilian life. The civilian, in essence, will likely suffer little to no consequences. It’s near certain that he won’t be indicted.”

He continued, “In my view, there are too many unjust arrests, there is a partial and very limited recognition of rehabilitation facilities and prison time is viewed as the only form of punishment while other potential treatment options get pushed aside.

"There are cases of Military Police investigators performing unprofessionally due to inexperience," he added. "To some of them, the ends justify the means when coaxing a confession out of the person being interrogated. Unfortunately, this phenomenon has not been on the decline, and in some ways may even be on the rise following the shortening of training periods for military investigators. In the IDF’s defense, the top tier commanders seem to have an understanding of the need to handle the situation."

Translated by Idan Zonshine


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