IDF says number of soldiers who fell in 2019 'lowest in history'

According to an annual report, although only 27 Israeli troops perished in the past year, almost half died through suicide, marking an increase in the number of soldiers taking their own lives

Yoav Ziton|
Israeli military said the number of fallen soldiers in the year of 2019 was the lowest since the Israel Defense Forces was formed back in 1948, according to an annual report published Wednesday.
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  • The IDF's Manpower Directorate said in the report that 27 soldiers died or had been killed in the past year and 35 troops were critically wounded, which also represents a dramatic decrease when compared to years prior.
    According to the report, at least two soldiers fell during battle: 19-year-old Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, who was killed last March in a terror attack at Ariel Junction when a Palestinian attacker stabbed him and seized his weapon, and First Sergeant Zachary Baumel, who disappeared in battle during the First Lebanon War and whose remains had been returned to Israel last April, after 37 years.
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    זוכרים את הנופלים ביד לשריון בלטרון
    זוכרים את הנופלים ביד לשריון בלטרון
    The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun
    (Photo: AP)
    Eighteen-year-old soldier Dvir Sorek was declared by IDF as having been killed during "hostile terrorist activity." Sorek's body was found with multiple stab wounds last August near the seminary where he studied as part of a program which combines Torah studies with military service. The army said that the soldier was neither armed nor in uniform when his body was found.
    The report says at least two soldiers died during military training: Evyatar Yosefi, who drowned during a solo training exercise, and Ron Oved who died when a parked bus rolled over a group of soldiers during tryouts for Paratroopers Brigade.
    Additionally, the report claims that 12 of the fallen soldiers took their own life, as opposed to only nine in 2018, representing a slight increase.
    Another five soldiers died in various car accidents, and two others died due to various medical conditions and illnesses.
    "The number of fallen soldiers keeps decreasing," said Brigadier General Michael Yanko, head of the IDF Manpower Directorate. "Between the IDF and its soldiers there's a unique relationship based on commitment, every fallen soldier is person with a family. Even though we had a positive year, we're committed to learning additional lessons in order to decrease the numbers even more. Every fatality is one too many."
    According to Yanko, the drop in the number of soldiers killed in traffic accidents is due to the army's increased efforts to educate the troops.
    Yanko added the military is working to decrease the number of suicides among the troops. "We're continually working to decrease the availability of weapons to soldiers on leave," said Yanko. "We're also working to increase the number of military psychiatrics available to our soldiers."
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