IDF failed families during war

Reservist's wife tells committee relatives were cut off even during emergencies.

October 16, 2006 01:48
2 minute read.
IDF failed families during war

artillery reservists 2. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Orit Kovaliker seemed surprised when a pack of journalists descended on her right before she testified at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's sub-committee charged with investigating the recent war in Lebanon. But the experienced lawyer stood her ground and began, slowly and calmly, to explain why she, a mother of one small girl and wife and sister of reservists, had come to tell her story. Kovaliker, who joined the Grunts Forum just before the end of the war in August, said she had come to offer a new angle on the war's aftermath that the government had yet to discuss - the effect of the IDF's lack of organization on the women and children who remained behind. She said that the quick draft caused families to change drastically overnight - but that while the draft was unavoidable, the defense establishment had not done anything to make that situation more bearable for families. One of the central complaints was that family members were completely cut off from their relatives, even in the case of a family emergency. A friend of hers, she said, was told by her doctor that she must undergo an emergency abortion, and had no way of contacting her husband to tell him. While every reserve company has a "communications officer" whose role is maintaining contact with reservists and the home front, Kovaliker said that the officers themselves had no way of maintaining contact with the soldiers. "Even during the war," she said, "the IDF must have a degree of responsibility toward its reservists." Kovaliker said that the emergency call up had meant that she and her husband could no longer share the responsibility for caring for their child, which meant shelling out hundreds - if not thousands - of shekels on babysitters - another expense, she said, that the government had no intention of paying back. "We must stop thinking that this is a war that affects men and soldiers alone," said Kovaliker, who was herself a reservist until the age of 25. For Kovaliker, the road to the committee on Sunday began four years ago, when her husband received a routine reserve call up to serve in the Gush Etzion area. Back then, she said, her husband had called to tell her that they had been sent out without equipment. At the time, she told him to come home, but he would not leave his comrades. "I was sure, back then, that the movement of wives would be led by a widow who lost her husband because of these failures," she said. But instead, after her experience this past summer, she decided that she would not wait for that moment, but would begin the struggle herself."

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