An IDF soldier stands guard during a tour made by Israeli parliament members in the Jordan Valley [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Forty-one IDF soldiers died while on duty in 2016, including 10 career and two reserve soldiers, the army said on Sunday.
According to official figures, 15 soldiers are suspected of having committed suicide, nine were killed in military accidents, seven in civilian traffic accidents, six died due to medical reasons and four were killed in action. In addition, 43 soldiers were severely injured over the course of the year.
The army has “a plan to prevent accidents in the army, with education regarding road safety and accident prevention,” a senior officer in the Manpower Directorate said. “The IDF attaches great importance to the prevention of injuries and death among its soldiers.”
The recent numbers show fewer deaths than in the previous decade, especially from suicides and road and training accidents.
From 2014 through 2016, there were 15 suicides per year, compared to 20 suicides per year from 2008 through 2011, the senior officer said. There was no specific characterization of soldiers who committed suicide, other than noting that all were males on the front line (though not specifically combat soldiers), and a vast majority occurred during initial training and compulsory service.
“There is a very broad suicide- prevention program, not only in the Personnel Directorate, it is shared by many in the military,” the officer said, adding: “We have many partners in this area, including commanders who receive training to identify signs of distress, which aim to help them identify soldiers who may need intervention.”
The army has two centers manned 24 hours per day, seven days a week, for soldiers in distress that receive a very high number of calls, the senior officer said, but did not give precise figures.
According to the army, soldiers who commit suicide are officially defined as “suspected suicides,” until the Military Police finish investigating their case.