35 Israeli soldiers arrested for drug use and illegal trade – Israel News



IDF soldiers during a training exercise

IDF soldiers during a training exercise.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

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Several Israeli civilians and 35 soldiers have been detained on suspicion of drug trafficking and use, the unit's IDF spokesperson announced on Sunday.

The soldiers were detained after an investigation by the central unit for special investigations in the MPCID, which was carried out with the help of the military advocate-general and in cooperation with the Israeli police.

According to the military, while the investigation is still pending, several suspects have been arrested and will be extended for the military court.

"This activity is only part of a series of steps taken by the IDF to enforce the ban on the use of drugs among its soldiers and to exercise the full law against every soldier involved in drug trafficking, "read a statement from the IDF.

In February, 10 IDF soldiers, four women and six men were arrested after they were found to be in possession of and used drugs.

The soldiers, who had all served on the officers training base in the Negev, were held for interrogation after a secret investigation had shown that they had bought, sold and used drugs while living on the base.

Two years ago, the army of Israel began to change the regulations regarding the use of marijuana by soldiers out of service.

Although marijuana will still be banned by all IDF service personnel, soldiers who appear to have the drugs in their system after returning from their leave will no longer be automatically brought to justice, but will have non-criminal and internal disciplinary measures undergo the discretion of the officer's commanding officers.

The soldier would also have to deal with a probationary period in which they would have to submit to monthly drug tests. This would prevent criminal proceedings and reserve soldiers from having a criminal record while the commanders still have the ability to punish their behavior.

"The goal is to allow a second chance," said the IDF spokesperson.

According to a recent Epidemiological Study conducted by the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, 54 percent of IDF soldiers admitted that they had smoked marijuana during the past year.

Despite the increase in the percentage of cannabis use due to the IDF's new policy, there has been a decrease in the number of drug-related cases against soldiers, the report said, explaining that 745 cases against troops were opened in 2009. 11.33 percent admitted to smoking cannabis in comparison with 629 indictments in 2014 and 538 cases in 2017.

Most of the charges related to marijuana.

Although the number of IDF soldiers imprisoned has decreased over the years, in 2017 some 10,240 soldiers were imprisoned. Almost half were jailed for desertion and another 20% absent without official leave (AWOL), other soldiers were jailed for drug-related crimes and even crimes such as rape and murder.

Last October, a female IDF soldier trapped for drug use was unconscious when he was held in a military prison and later died.
The 19-year-old soldier, who was arrested in early September for smoking marijuana, was detained at Prison 4 in Tzifin.

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