Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Another IDF Suicide Puts Cloud over Army Report on Accidents

December 13, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A dramatic decrease in the number of accidental deaths of armed service personnel was reported Tuesday by the Israel Defense Force.

But the achievement was marred by yet another suicide of an IDF soldier on active duty, the second in less than a month.

The semiannual report of the IDF’s Manpower Division, submitted to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said accidental deaths declined more than 50 percent from the same six-month period last year.

The improvements were in three areas: military road accidents, accidents during maneuvers and accidents not on maneuvers.

But road accidents involving off-duty soldiers have increased threefold, compared to accidents on duty.

There has also been an increase in self-caused accidents and in the number of suspected suicides, the IDF report said.

The most recent suicide occurred Sunday when Shmuel Mu’alem, 19, of Or Yehuda, near Tel Aviv, hanged himself, three days after an unsuccessful attempt to shoot himself to death.

He was supposed to be under surveillance at the time.

The youth had been denied a request for transfer to a unit closer to home to be near his widowed mother.

On Dec. 7, he fired his army-issue gun into his abdomen, inflicting a serious but non-fatal wound. Taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, Mu’alem recovered after surgery.

Two soldiers were detailed to guard him. However, on Sunday afternoon, when he seemed much improved physically and mentally, the soldiers left together for a snack. Mu’alem hobbled into the bathroom, put a knotted sheet around his neck and hanged himself.

The last previous IDF suicide occurred on Nov. 18, when Sgt. Eli Sahar of the crack Givati Brigade put a bullet through his head at a military base.

He was alleged to have been harassed by his superiors and other soldiers. Disciplinary action was taken against his company commander.

Recommended from JTA