Flotilla evokes post-traumatic stress in former soldiers - Israel News, Ynetnews

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Difficult images from Marmara Photo: AFP
Difficult images from Marmara Photo: AFP

Flotilla evokes post-traumatic stress in former soldiers

While commandos injured in flotilla takeover still recovering from incident, images of event open old wounds among those involved in similar circumstances. Thus far, at least four combat soldiers have reported worsening of their condition

Hanan Greenberg
Published: 06.17.10, 08:24 / Israel News

The difficult images of Israeli commandos tied up and bloody on the deck of the Marmara that were published by Turkish newspapers have had significant effects on soldiers who have been away from the battlefield for more than a year.


Ynet learned that at least four Navy combat soldiers have recently contacted the Defense Ministry to report that the media images of the injured soldiers have instigated a worsening in their mental and psychiatric conditions.


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One of the soldiers, who was released from the military just last summer after serving in one of the Navy's secret units, recently contacted the Defense Ministry rehabilitation department with a request that the depositions on his condition be updated after the images of the clashes on the Marmara flooded him once again with the difficult images he was confronted with during his service.


This same young man enlisted to the IDF with no medical or psychological conditions. However, due to the nature of his service, he was persistently exposed to threat. In the deposition on his condition, he reported that he did not receive any training on how to deal with such situations and their repercussions, one of which is that he has a hard time falling asleep at night.


His condition then worsened, and he suffered from nightmares, prompting his mental health officer to hospitalize him in a psychiatric ward.

Images of violence prompted post-traumatic stress in former soldiers (Photo: AFP)


The former soldier noted that he at first tried to grapple with the images of the conflict on the Turkish ship on his own. However, once he understood that this was beyond his capacity, he decided to report this to the rehabilitation department.


However, he was not the only soldier to contact the Defense Ministry recently. Another three former combat soldiers reported a worsening in their mental disorder, which they suffer from due to the nature of their military service.


"These are soldiers that experience post-traumatic stress because of an extreme situation they encountered after being exposed, even through media outlets, to pictures and events of a similar variety," said Attorney Eli Saban to Ynet. Saban is working on filing cases against the Defense Ministry.


"Such a phenomenon is recognized in the professional literature in which events in the present cause people who experienced similar events in their past to experience a worsening in their condition. This same thing happened during the Second Lebanon War when soldiers who fought in the First Lebanon War reported mental distress instigated by the images of battles in the same areas they themselves had once fought," explained Saban.


Saban said that the phenomenon is likely to increase, and, therefore, called upon anyone who starts to feel symptoms of distress not to ignore them and to take advantage of the IDF-run program to handle similar situations.


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