Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland
American soldier dancing on a table

The special Knesset committee dedicated to fighting drugs and alcohol abuse on Monday assembled for a follow-up hearing of the IDF’s management of alcoholism in the ranks, only to be dispersed moments later by committee chair MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) who discovered the IDF had not bothered to send the senior personnel the committee requested, and instead sent a low ranking representative who did not bring the relevant data.

At a hearing one year ago, the committee instructed IDF representatives to provide the relevant data on alcohol consumption in the army, and in recent months the army made clear that data had been collected and was ready for presentation. Now it appears the army has changed its mind.

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MK Zandberg opened the meeting saying her committee enjoyed “excellent cooperation with the IDF and with the outgoing commander of the military police investigations unit.” She reiterated that “about a year ago we asked the IDF to collect data on alcohol consumption as a disciplinary violation in the army. We ran into difficulties in preparing for the debate and would be happy to receive clarifications.”

Esther Salzman Segev, the Military Police Investigations Inspection Officer, told the committee that “alcohol consumption constitutes a disciplinary rather than criminal violation, therefore there is no data follow-up. We only possess data regarding violations committed following alcohol consumption, such as road accidents by drivers who are under the influence, or other violations committed as a result of drinking alcoholic beverages.”

At which point MK Zandberg angrily ended the committee session, saying, “The Military Police Investigations commander assured me that there is separate coding for alcohol consumption and that it is already being applied. Which is why I fail to understand why you didn’t get here with the data. There’s no point in having the hearing without that data. I am forced to disperse the meeting, and the committee demands to receive the data in writing within two weeks.”

MK Zandberg announced that she intends to approach both the defense minister and the IDF chief of staff to protest the blatant and deliberate disregard for the Knesset, the likes of which I cannot recall. The committee will demand the coordination of an additional hearing on this subject with the commander of the Investigative Military Police and a representative of the military prosecution.”

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