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IDF helicopter evacuating injured soldiers (Photo: Ido Erez)
IDF helicopter evacuating injured soldiers (Photo: Ido Erez) 
 
IDF soldiers near the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters)
IDF soldiers near the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters) 
 
 

Soldiers criticize lack of safety measures outside battlefield

After four soldiers die at a rally point outside Gaza, IDF reservists and regulars say 'we have not received a single briefing' about procedures for mortar attacks.

Itay Blumenthal
Published: 07.30.14, 00:05 / Israel News

Four of the IDF soldiers who were killed Monday died not in combat but because they were in the line of fire. The soldiers were staying in one of the rally points near the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired on their location – and the soldiers could not find cover.

 

 

"The writing was on the wall," said one of the combat reservists also staying near the border," I'm not sure where is safer, inside or outside (Gaza)."

 

IDF helicopter evacuating injured soldiers (Photo: Ido Erez)
IDF helicopter evacuating injured soldiers (Photo: Ido Erez)
 

 

Following the mortar attack that claimed the lives of Staff Sgt. Adi Briga, Staff Sgt. Eliav Kahlon, Corporal Maeidan Biton, and Corporal Niran Cohen, IDF soldiers said they had not been properly instructed on the procedures to follow during such events.

  

"Up until today, almost two weeks after we were called up, we have not received a single briefing on the correct procedures to follow in the case of mortar fire," said Ya'akov, an infantryman who had been in Gaza for a week and a half.

 

IDF soldiers near the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters)
IDF soldiers near the Gaza border (Photo: Reuters)

 

"We have been to a number of rallying points, and were amazed to discover that the lessons of the Second Lebanon War and Pillar of Defense had not been implemented," he added. "No official has given a clear order: Do we enter a tank or an APC or is it better to run to an open space and lay flat on the ground?"

 

David Solmani, which has been called up to serve in a medical unit, stressed that he warned of high-trajectory weapon fire, but that his concerns were dismissed, he claimed. "Since I was called up I have yelled at officers and commanders that have not set a personal example and have walked around without flak jackets and helmets."

 

"People looked at me like I was paranoid and laughed at me. I believe there is peer pressure on the soldiers to act macho. Where I am there are no portable shelters, no concrete cylinders, no dugouts, and nobody was properly briefed. I am furious at the disrespect for human life."

 

Amir, a soldier in the 7th Armored Division, said Monday's incident broke through the soldiers' apathy. "Until the event, all of us, including me, were pretty indifferent," he admitted.

 

"Yesterday we were punched hard in the gut, because the feeling was that outside the Strip was much safer – but it's not true. To be safe, my friends and I have started walking around with flak jackets and helmets. It's hot out here, but these could save a life."

 

Michal Margalit contributed to this report.

 

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