44 IDF soldiers fell in 2022, mostly not in action

Three of the soldiers were killed in action, 17 in accidents, 14 in incidents suspected as suicides and 10 died due to illness.

 Funeral of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Funeral of IDF soldier St.-Sgt. Natan Fitoussi

Forty-four soldiers died in 2022, most of them not in combat situations, the highest number in five years, the IDF reported Tuesday.

Three of the soldiers fell in action, while 17 lost their lives in accidents, 14 died in suspected suicides, and 10 succumbed to illnesses.

The figure marks an increase of 13 deaths, compared with 2021 and the suicides number was also higher, continuing a two-year trend of an increase in suicides relative to 2020.

Number of suicides in the IDF increased for second year in 2022

Three more soldiers committed suicide than in 2021, and three more were hospitalized in serious condition in suicide attempts.

Two more soldiers were killed in action than in 2021, but four fewer were seriously wounded in action. 158 soldiers were injured in the full spectrum of categories, a significant jump overall.

 The funeral of Major Bar Falah at the military cemetery in Netanya on September 14, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) The funeral of Major Bar Falah at the military cemetery in Netanya on September 14, 2022. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

There was also an increase in soldiers killed in training accidents, aviation accidents, operational accidents and drowning incidents, compared with 2021.

Four fewer soldiers were killed in traffic accidents, compared with 2021, but 20 more were seriously injured.

Four more soldiers died due to illness than in 2021. Sixty-two more soldiers were in serious condition due to illness, compared with 2021, although the data comes in light of a decision by the Medical Corps to recognize anyone hospitalized in an ICU as in serious condition.

The IDF has restricted access to firearms, increased the number of mental-health officers, mental-health visits, training for officers about mental-health issues and its focus on at-risk populations, among other steps, the report said.

IDF Brig.-Gen. Yoram Kanfu argued that the number of killed IDF soldiers in 2022 was similar to recent years.

Though he acknowledged they were slightly higher than some recent years, he noted that they were much lower than during the Knife Intifada of 2015-2016 and other earlier periods of more intense terror and conflict.

Moreover, the IDF said that other countries have even worse suicide rates especially when taking into accoutn the high relative percentage of Israeli soldiers who are armed versus deskjob-soldiers. 

Kanfu said there are many processes being introduced to learn from past accidents and to avoid future ones.

Also, he said that the IDF is implementing a new way of absorbing certain "population sectors in danger" of suicide to try to better avoid suicide scenarios.

However, asked at a press briefing to explain how they categorize such persons, Kanfu said it is still a case by case evaluation, but could not give set criteria.

As an example, Kanfu noted that multiple soldiers encountered friction with the country’s civilian police on weekends prior to committing suicide. He said that going forward there would be IDF officials immediately seeking out and accompanying soldiers after any such incidents with the police which might lead to a sudden deterioration in their mental state and stability.

Further, the IDF is facilitating soldiers being able to turn to civil support services, even beyond the standard IDF support services that are generally available.

Kanfu said, “every lost soldier is a lost universe.”

Meanwhile, Cpl. Baruch Kabrata, 19, from Petah Tikva was killed in an incident of suspected gun negligence Monday night at the Anatot army base.

Kabrata was promoted posthumously from the rank of private to corporal. His funeral was held on Tuesday afternoon in the military section of Petah Tikva’s Segula Cemetery.

The IDF said it was investigating the incident, and its findings would be forwarded to the IDF Attorney’s Office for examination.

IDF officers initially suspected Kabrata was killed by another soldier through gun negligence, the N12 news site reported.

The Military Police said it had opened an investigation into the incident and would submit its findings to Military Advocate-General Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi.

Kabrata served as a combat soldier in the Military Police’s Erez Battalion. Sgt. Noa Lazar, who was killed last October in a terrorist attack at the Shuafat checkpoint in east Jerusalem, was also in the Erez Battalion.