There were 40 reports of rape recorded by the IDF in the past year and an overall 43% increase of complaints regarding sexual assault over the past five years, The Jerusalem Post has learnt.
According to the numbers provided to The Jerusalem Post by the IDF there were 13 cases of abuse of authority, 165 cases of obscene acts, 263 cases of physical harassment, another 349 cases of verbal harassment and another 63 cases of unwanted peeking or photography.
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A senior IDF officer told The Jerusalem Post that 49% of the complaints reported to the military were from conscripts while another 29% were reported by career soldiers.
“The IDF takes complaints by both female and male soldiers,” the senior officer said, adding that while there has been a rise in the number of soldiers reporting sexual assaults there has not been an actual rise in the number of rape cases within the army.
In accordance with army regulations even if rape or sexual assaults occur in “civilian circumstances,” the incident is tried in an IDF military court.
"The IDF views every case of sexual harassment or harassment within its ranks as intolerable,” the army said.“The IDF will continue to act to eradicate sexual harassment within its ranks and to fully prosecute all those who harm or sexually harass soldiers.”
In July 2017 an IDF soldier was charged in the Jaffa Military Court with raping and sexually assaulting a female soldier who served with him in a combat battalion while the two were out in Tel Aviv with a group of soldiers from the unit.
Two months earlier another IDF soldier from the co-ed ‘Bardalas’ (Cheetah) battalion was arrested for allegedly raping a female soldier from his unit on the base where the two soldiers are stationed. The soldier was taken into custody by military police after the victim filed a complaint with authorities.
In April 2017 two soldiers who served in supporting roles as drivers in IDF‘s elite naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, were arrested following a complaint filed by by a female soldier serving with them on the Atlit base near Haifa. According to the complaint, the two were drinking alcohol in a vehicle on base and then sexually assaulted her.
There are regular educational sessions for female soldiers regarding sexual harassment in the military and according to the senior IDF officer, if a female soldier becomes pregnant by rape, the IDF will help her get an abortion within days of her reporting it.
“We have a clear mechanism to take of those soldiers who were injured,” she said. “For us, there is no difference between physical assaults and verbal assaults. The perpetrator will be treated the same way.”
“The army does not need to be embarrassed by these sort of incidents but should be proud of how it responds and take care of those who were hurt,” the senior officer told the Post on Thursday. “The army takes care of it’s people.”
Last year an internal IDF survey found that one in six female soldiers declared that she had been sexually harassed during her service, with the vast majority of the female soldiers said that they had been harassed more than once during their service, with 6% saying they had been harassed two or three times and another 3% responded that they had been harassed four times or more.
The survey was conducted by the Chief of Staff‘s Gender Advisor, who sent thousands of female soldiers and officers anonymous questionnaires.
According to the survey the vast majority of the female soldiers said that they had been harassed more than once during their service, with 6% saying they had been harassed two or three times and another 3% responded that they had been harassed four times or more.
The data of survey, which is conducted every two years, relates to 2016 and questions were asked regarding cases of sexual harassment in the IDF as well as the awareness, reporting culture, and treatment provided to victims.
According to a statement by the IDF spokesperson’s unit, the survey did not indicate an increase in the number of female soldiers and officers who reported experiencing sexual harassment but the amount of respondents stating that they experienced sexual harassment four or more times is the highest level since 2004.
The survey also found that while there was still a significantly high feeling among female soldiers that there is an atmosphere of sexual harassment at 60%, the number has gone down from 65% in the last survey two years earlier.