When hearing of the Iron Dome defense system, one normally thinks of its ability to intercept short-range rockets fired at Israel from bordering countries. However, reality is less glamorous for the soldiers who operate the defense system.
Iron Dome operators paint a wholly different picture than the one we see on the news: "It takes weeks and sometimes months until we receive portable housing," said one soldier.
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The soldiers operating the defense system claim they are living in unsuitable conditions. The IDF ombudsman further said that there are severe gaps in the laying of infrastructure that should be dealt with immediately.
The IDF has yet to find a permanent logistic solution for the hundreds of soldiers who operate the system. "We sleep in tents most of the time as the portable housing unit takes time to arrive. We have to use portable toilets and eat field rations until packaged food arrives," said one soldier.
"During the cold winter nights, our tent fills up with mud and in the summer we suffer from the heat and no air conditioning," he added.
Unlike other units, the Iron Dome operators do not know how long they will be stationed at the post. The IDF does not transfer any permanent equipment to the site either. "There's no reason for soldiers who are stationed at permanent units to receive better conditions than us. We also want decent housing, permanent showers and a canteen," the soldier said.
Several soldiers have already filed a complaint with the IDF's ombudsman, General (res.) Yitzhak Brick.
Over the past few weeks, Brick and his team visited various Iron Dome sites in order to investigate the soldiers' complaints and accurately examine the conditions on the field. Shortly after his visits, Brick ordered the authorities in charge to act immediately.
According to the IDF's Spokespersons Unit, Tthe Iron Dome operators are stationed in the field according to the changing estimations of the security situation. Most of the time, the soldiers must be moved from site to site on short notice. The living conditions and the infrastructure at the Iron Dome sites are in accordance with the IDF's operational activity."
"The complaints filed by the soldiers are being examined and have been transferred to the relevant authorities. We hope to gradually improve the conditions at the sites," they added.
The Defense Ministry also commented on the severe complaints made by the soldiers, saying that the "ombudsman has ordered logistic authorities to immediately find a solution to the major problems that have surfaced."
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