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Israel: former air force officer sent to prison for sexual assault

March 14, 2023 at 4:12 pm

Israeli female soldiers. [Saeed Qaq – Anadolu Agency]

A former Israeli Air Force officer has been imprisoned for sexually assaulting two of his female subordinates. The officer, whose name has not been made public, was sentenced to just four years and nine months in prison by a military court on Sunday.

“The offences were committed using force and using his command authority over the victims,” the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said yesterday.

The former lieutenant was also given a suspended sentence, ordered to pay the victims NIS 33,000 ($9,100), and demoted to the rank of airman, reported the Times of Israel. He was detained in January last year following allegations of sexual abuse and has been held in custody ever since. He was convicted in September on six counts of sexual assault, including sodomy and five indecent acts by force against the two female soldiers who served in his unit.

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“The Military Advocate General is accompanying the victims of the crime, updating them on developments, and granting them all the rights they are entitled to according to law,” confirmed the IDF. Although the IDF claimed that it deals with sexual abuse by armed forces personnel “with severity”, it has been criticised for its inability to address the phenomenon of sexual violence.

According to the latest report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel (ARCCI), published last year, there were 4,521 sexual offence and sexual harassment cases investigated by the prosecutor’s office in 2020. However, in 2021, the figure was down to 4,218. Similarly, the report noted a lower number of indictments being filed for sexual offences in 2021, down to 717 from 744 in 2020.

Moreover, just under 90 per cent of sexual offence cases involving IDF officers were opened but later closed without charge. The IDF reported an 82 per cent increase in complaints about sexual offences since 2016.

“Israeli society is a society bathed in sexual violence, and women pay a difficult and heavy price for it,” ARCCI Executive Director Orit Sulitzeanu told the Jerusalem Post. “One of the reasons for this is the fact that in Israel, many organisations derive organisational norms from the military, which is a hierarchical, masculine and, of course, militaristic organisation.”

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