Unfit living conditions are still apparent at Iron Dome
units deployed across Israel, Ynet learned Thursday.
Ombudsman Brigadier-General (Res.) Yitzhak Brik criticized
the IDF over the issue, new reports reveal horrific living conditions and abusive treatment of the soldiers by their commanders.
Soldiers manning the missile defense system's batteries in Southern Israel recently warned that "Such living conditions would result in mutiny."
The troops complained in the past about several issues, including a manpower shortage, chemical toilets facilities only, sleeping in tents and delayed food supplies.
An IDF Ombudsman inspection of the premises found the soldiers' accusations to be justified, but not much has improved since.
"Imagine serving three years in the army using only chemical toilets," one of the unit's soldiers said. "The existing toilets next to our living quarters are not connected to the sewage system... on one occasion these 'mock toilets' were lifted by a crane only to reveal massive amount of rats and mice."
Other soldiers serving in the Infantry, Tanks, and Artillery brigades and deployed in Gaza, the West Bank
and the Lebanese border are supplied with much better conditions including kitchens, mess halls, soldiers' clubs and even a gym on some cases.
Not so in the case of Iron Dome operators. "We do not want to be called 'crybabies' so we get by with our cell phones during leisure time, but we should at least receive the food delivered on time. In many cases the food arrives at 3-4 pm but the commanders couldn't care less. On some occasions kind civilians from the nearby town bring us home cooked meals, doing so secretly so the commanders won't object," another soldier said.
It was only weeks ago that, while stationed in Eilat,
the soldiers had no choice but improvise dinner using field rations, and when one of the civilians offered to supply them with fresh Pizza, "The battery commander refused to accept it, requesting him to leave the premises. On some occasions parents arrive from far North bringing us food," one soldier said.
'The mayor of a southern town where an Iron Dome battery has been intermittently stationed confirmed the soldiers' laments.
"The conditions are dire," he said. "I made sure food was supplied to them and occasionally arranged a pickup to the town's country club so they could shower and freshen up."
But it is not only the food supply that has the soldiers upset: The units are also missing emergency evacuation vehicles and medics. "We don't have doctors' visits like other combat soldiers and if one of us gets sick he has to wait for an administrative vehicle to fetch him. We only get to see a doctor at our home base where we feel like outsiders as it is," one soldier said.
Another soldiers added: "Apparently bringing the US defense secretary for a visit is more important. The soldiers are forgotten. A year-and-a-half passed since the first interception, but the best IAF in the world has yet to supply us with adequate logistic solutions."
The IDF spokesman
unit replied: "Iron Dome soldiers are deployed according to frequently changing situation assessments, and often immediate ones. We use private property for military operations and are required to return it to its previous state."
According to the IDF, the infrastructure and living conditions at the batteries meet IDF standards.
"In addition the officers are attentive to soldiers' needs and are doing everything possible to supply adequate conditions required to execute the mission.
"After a second review of the soldiers' complaints we found that all impairments have been fixed," the IDF said.
Army officials further claimed that "The complaints mentioned are only relevant to deployment areas. According to IDF standards, operational deployment includes sleeping in tents, use of chemical toilets and no ambulance.
"A designated emergency vehicle and a medic are available. When necessary, soldiers visit the home base doctor. The food is supplied from other bases since constructing a temporary kitchen is prohibited."
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