Thirty-five Israeli soldiers have been arrested for using or trafficking drugs and will be brought before an Israeli military court.
Their detention was announced by the army Spokesperson’s Unit yesterday and followed an inquiry by Israel’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division. Several Israeli civilians were also detained on suspicion of the same offences.
A statement by the army said “this activity is only part of a series of steps taken by the IDF to enforce the prohibition against the use of drugs among its soldiers and to exercise the full force of the law against any soldier involved in drug trafficking,” the Jerusalem Post reported.
Drug use among Israeli soldiers is rife. In June it emerged that at least 54 per cent of Israeli soldiers smoked cannabis last year. The statistics came from the Israel Anti-Drugs Authority (IADA) and showed a sharp rise in the number of soldiers using cannabis compared to 2009, when the rate was only 11 per cent. Reporting on the IADA revelations, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth explained that “in the past, smoking hash was a dangerous crime in the army. In many cases, soldiers were indicted with criminal charges and sent to prison. However, the paper added that “since January 2017 the Israeli army adopted a more lenient policy, allowing Israeli soldiers to smoke up to five times while off duty.”
Last week, an officer from the Engineering Corps was detained on suspicion of smoking cannabis on dozens of occasions, Ynet reported. The news site added that in July alone, close to 70 soldiers were arrested on suspicion of drug-related offenses, including combat soldiers and officers. It is not yet clear which drugs were being used and trafficked by the 35 soldiers most recently arrested.