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Study Says Soldiers Less Affected Than Others in Similar Situations

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The Israel Defense Force, though it has maintained a presence in the administered territories for more than 20 years, has not been affected by the same negative phenomena found among other armies in similar situations.

That was the conclusion of Dr. Yoram Perry of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, based on the results of a five-year study of the effects of the occupation on the IDF.

Perry, addressing a recent conference of the Sociological Association at Haifa University, agreed that certain changes have occurred since the Palestinian uprising broke out in the territories in December 1987.

Some of the negative effects the study found that did not affect Israeli soldiers on duty in the territories included development of disagreement between the army and the political echelon, a self-image crisis and a rift between the military and the civilian population.

Meanwhile, Dr. Reuven Gal, former chief psychologist of the IDF, reported fewer aberrations committed by soldiers in the territories than would be expected, considering the psychological stresses to which they are subject.

Gal, who is director of the Israel Institute for Military Studies, said his findings could be explained in two ways.

Either not all aberrational behavior is reported, or the IDF has been very successful in controlling the soldiers and their commanding officers serving in the territories, Gal told a conference of psychologists this week.

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