IDF officer ‘loaned’ his soldiers to family, friends for chores

IDF officer ‘loaned’ his soldiers to family, friends for chores

Now demoted to private, commander forced subordinates to carry out nonmilitary work — including painting his wife’s office

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative: An IDF soldier sits in a military court. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
Illustrative: An IDF soldier sits in a military court. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

An IDF officer abused his position by compelling his soldiers to do nonmilitary work for his friends and family members, including painting his wife’s office, an army court found Sunday.

The officer, who served as a logistics officer in an engineering unit, was also found to have loaned army equipment to friends and family and forced soldiers under his command to use tools and machinery they were not licensed or trained to use, which resulted in one soldier being sent to the emergency room, Channel 2 news reported.

“He made use of his role, his rank and his position for his own personal ends and used army property as his own,” read the indictment against the officer, whose name and rank have been withheld.

The military investigation found that the officer, who had served in the army for 24 years, in 2013 required his soldiers to draw up building plans for his friend, an officer in the Israel Prison Service.

He then had his soldiers take the required building materials from the IDF base where they served, deliver them to the IPS base and build the structure, despite the soldiers not being trained or certified in many of the required skills.

In another instance the commander gave two of his soldiers “special leave” so that they could work for an external contractor, whose company was in turn employed by the very base where those soldiers served, despite clear rules forbidding such arrangements.

While illegally working for the contractor, one of the soldiers was injured while operating an electric saw without protective gear, which sent him to the emergency room and kept him out of the army on sick leave for two weeks.

In 2013, the officer sent two of his soldiers to paint his wife’s office in the Ashdod municipality during normal army hours when the pair should have been working on base.

The commander was also found to have given one of his soldiers old army-owned machinery and instructed him to construct from it go-karts, but the soldier refused, saying he didn’t feel comfortable taking apart army equipment.

The man, whose name has not been released, was found guilty of fraud, breach of trust and conduct unbecoming of an officer. The court, led by Lt. Col. Shachar Greenberg, demoted the man down to the rank of private, sentenced him to three months of army labor and ordered him to pay NIS 3,000 ($800) damages to the injured soldier.

“I’m 24 years in the army,” the officer said during court proceedings, “I have never done anything for myself, only for others.”

The officer’s attorney Idan Dvir added, “Even after the investigation against him began my client took an active part in Operation Protective Edge. This is a man who values the military, a very moral man. His roles in most of these cases were relatively minor.”

The IDF deals harshly with officers who abuse their positions and soldiers for personal gain. In similar cases, commanders found to have carried out similar violations were sentenced to 4-8 months in prison.

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