A mentally ill civilian in his 20s was drafted by the IDF during last November's Operation Pillar of Defense and even fired his personal weapon, Ynet has learned.
The man was called up for reserve duty at the beginning of the operation against terrorists in Gaza despite the fact that his family implored the army to exempt him because of his schizophrenia.
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The army, for its part, claims it did not release the man because he failed to present documentation proving he was mentally ill. The young man, who served as a combat soldier in an infantry brigade, was issued a personal assault rifle and even fired it during training exercises in the south, which were conducted as part of the preparations for a ground offensive.
Soldiers during Operation Pillar of Defense (Archive photo: Reuters)
About a month after the operation ended, Attorney Eli Saban turned to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz's bureau on the family's behalf and demanded clarifications. The IDF chief's office decided that the civilian would not be called up for reserve duty for a period of six months until the matter was clarified.
Saban blamed the IDF for what he called a failure and mentioned that National Insurance Institute documents clearly show that the man received a monthly disability stipend of NIS 5,458 (about $1,500) throughout all of 2012.
The attorney said his client was granted the stipend after authorities determined that he "looks old for his age, has a neglected appearance, answers question in a soft voice, has a paranoid attitude and lacks judgment. This man is in a continuous psychotic state.
"His commanders refused to discharge him despite his medical condition, claiming that everyone, including the disabled, is recruited at a time of war," Attorney Saban said. "His father and wife's pleas did not yield any results. A person who suffers from a difficult mental condition and carries a weapon can cause serious harm to himself and other reserve soldiers."
The National Insurance Institute said it is not permitted to disclose this type of information to the army.
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the army "never received any official medical records indicating that the (civilian) was ill. Therefore, there was nothing preventing the army from calling him up for reserve duty."
The army added the civilian "was called up twice in 2010. He was also recruited at the outbreak of Operation Pillar of Defense, but he did not declare that he was suffering from any medical problem."
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