IDF bases in Judea, Samaria in ‘substandard conditions’: state comptroller

The situation endangers the IDF’s ability to conduct ongoing counterterrorism operations and needs to be corrected immediately, says Matan Englman.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s state comptroller issued a report Sunday slamming the substandard conditions of army bases in Judea and Samaria, saying it endangers the IDF’s ability to conduct ongoing counterterrorism operations in the region.

During recent surprise inspections in a Jordan Valley base and one in central Samaria, Matan Englman talked to reservists, conscripts and officers and heard numerous complaints ranging from poor and even dangerous living conditions to a lack of military equipment, all of which affect the troops’ ability to function well in their combat duties.

“It is not possible to accept a reality where, in a temperature of over 40 degrees [centigrade] in the Jordan Valley, troops will not have basic drinking water that is not boiling and will have to make do with ineffective air conditioners, some of which are not repaired due to a lack of budget,” he wrote.

The soldiers in training also do not receive enough protein, he wrote, deeming their one portion of meat per day “insufficient” to retain their physical stamina. They complained of poor food hygiene as well, specifically noting kitchen staff working with dirty hands, leading to cases of diarrhea.

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The state comptroller wrote that especially in food matters, there was a lack of preparation for the influx of extra battalions in the region who are participating in the IDF push to beat back the escalation of Palestinian terrorism in Operation Break the Wave.

Medical care is sorely lacking as well, the report said, with soldiers often waiting weeks to get to a doctor or dentist. A visit to a specialist that has already been pre-approved can take much longer, even “many months.”

Englman wrote that such treatment of combat units is “unacceptable” and demanded immediate action, especially considering that “the assumption should be that this is a rolling operation that may last a long time.”

In the Samarian base, the comptroller heard more complaints of a direct military nature. The troops are missing equipment they need, he wrote, while out of what they have, “a significant” number of army vehicles are broken down and many personal weapons need repair.

Even more seriously, perhaps, reservists of one battalion said they had been trained to fight Hezbollah in Lebanon, and they “fear that in the moment of truth, they will not be prepared” to do what they must against the Palestinian terrorists in Judea and Samaria.

In response, an IDF spokesperson said, “In the two bases that were visited, the deficiencies found do not harm the operational competence and readiness of the forces for combat. Some of the report’s findings were dealt with immediately after the visit, and the rest are being dealt with.

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Other army sources blamed budgeting constraints for the lack of proper infrastructure, defended the food allocation by saying that the Jordan Valley troops “receive an additional two portions of meat per week,” and found no problem with the food hygiene on base, although the army “would keep a closer eye on the issue.”

Regarding the slow medical service, the army insisted that “the medical response in the IDF has improved in all formations in the last year.”

The reason some soldiers must wait for treatment, it added, is because “they are in the field and cannot go to a clinic,” but all company medics have been told that “medical treatment should also come at the expense of training time and shouldn’t be delayed.”