'60% of complaints filed against IDF commanders are justified'

The report showed a 20% increase in the number of complaints filed by soldiers against their commanding officers.

IDF soldiers gaza 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
IDF soldiers gaza 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Sixty percent of complaints IDF soldiers filed against their commanders over the past year were found to be justified, IDF Ombudsman Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avner Barzani revealed Monday in his annual report. The report showed a 20% increase in the number of complaints filed by soldiers against their commanding officers. In total, 6,404 complaints were filed in 2007 by IDF soldiers and reservists in comparison to 6,076 in 2006. A large number of the complaints were related to medical issues, or soldiers complaining of poor treatment by their commanders. Two hundred and fifty-five complaints were filed by soldiers who were denied access to a doctor and 55 who claimed that their commanders refused to allow them time to eat. One example given in the report was that of a soldier who suffered from ringing in his ears after target practice. The doctor he went to told him to "either shoot yourself in the head or ignore the ringing." In another case, a soldier who broke his hand during basic training was forced by his commander, despite displaying the relevant medical documents, to hold a heavy radio device until he finished counting up to 300 out loud. His commanders then told him to "stop pretending to be sick." The report also referred to an example of a platoon commander who visited the home of one of his soldiers early one morning. After no one opened the door despite his repeated banging, the officer sent a text message to the soldier's mother that read: "Congratulations. I just sent your son to prison." In his report, Barzani criticized commanders who, he said, had not properly investigated complaints that were probed by his office. He said that this dismissive behavior was recurrent and that he would look into ways to ensure that commanders took their soldiers' complaints seriously. "This is extremely disturbing since it's directly connected to the IDF culture and the way it learns its lessons," Barzani wrote. An IDF spokesman said that Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi met with Barzani this week and was briefed on the various conclusions reached in the report. Following the meeting, Ashkenazi integrated officers from the Ombudsman's Office and instructors in military command courses.