A recent report put out by the IDF Ombudsman found a large number of complaints of soldiers who complained of being made to feel disrespected and humiliated, with some recounting situations where they were slapped and even beaten by their commanders. The mounting cases included in the report point to a serious rise in verbal and physical incidents of commanders against those serving under them.
In response to the report, the IDF Ombudsman put out an ethical code of conduct, basing its prohibitions on actual cases from the report.
During one such case, a soldier detailed an incident where his commander spoke to him in a demeaning manner, slapped and hit him on the back of his neck. An investigation found evidence to corroborate this account, as a pattern of crude and disparaging comments made by the commander in question to those under him emerged.
Another complaint recounted how a soldier who was feeling distressed asked his commander to see a mental health officer. His commander refused to approve the request, and when the soldier told him he was going to harm himself with a knife, his commander urged him to follow through, saying, “Go ahead and cut yourself, cut yourself if you’re a real man.” The soldier, in fact, did proceed to harm himself, and only after he did so was he referred to a mental health professional.
Head Ombudsman Ret. Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Brick responded to the report, stating that “IDF commanders are required to emphasize more clearly that these lines are not to be crossed, since crossing them raises a flag over the heads of the IDF commanders and soldiers. Any commander who crosses them is not fit to command.” He added that “These lines include insulting, abusive and humiliating physical violence or physical violence carried out by the commander. As commanders, mandatory service soldiers and officers, you must set an example in everything you do and take a stern and uncompromising attitude when faced with any act of violence, be it ‘light’ or severe.”