Israeli soldier suffering from PTSD wounds fellow soldiers in accidental shooting

IDF soldier apparently suffering from PTSD after serving in Gaza opens fire after nightmare, wounding fellow soldiers.

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

A soldier apparently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awoke from a nightmare last week and began shooting at a wall, wounding other soldiers in the room.

The soldier in question had been recently fighting in Gaza, and was on leave with his unit in Ashkelon.

The soldier will be questioned by Israel’s Military Investigative Police, and examined by medical staff to determine his psychological condition. This tragic incident highlights the impact that the Gaza war is having on the psyches of both Israel’s soldiers and civilians.

Since the atrocities of the savage attack on Israel by thousands of Hamas terrorists on October 7, hundreds of thousands of Israelis have asked the Health Ministry, HMOs, and mental health organizations for psychological help for trauma and anxiety resulting from the stress of the ongoing war.

For those who were direct victims or witnessed the terrorist attacks on family or friends, the psychological toll is particularly severe, as it is with soldiers under attack by Israel’s enemies.

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Others suffer anxiety or panic attacks from the continual sirens warning of incoming missiles fired from Gaza or Lebanon at civilian communities. There have been approximately 10,000 rocket attacks since October.

PTSD, what used to be known as “shell shock,” is a different level of mental health problem.

It has been described as an “emotional poison that overloads the soul.” According to Israel’s National Trauma Center for Victims of Terrorism and War, PTSD results from exposure to a traumatic event and “the emotional/psychological system is flooded with more stimuli than it can contain and process. The stimuli remain in the system, in their raw, unprocessed state and occasionally return…As a result, the sufferer re-experiences the traumatic situation, as a physical or emotional experience, exactly as if it were occurring all over again. Images, memories, noises and odors that were part of the original traumatic experience return, in an overwhelming manner…”

According to a 2013 study on PTSD by the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Mental Health Department, reported cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among Israeli soldiers are among the lowest in militaries worldwide.

An estimated 1.5% of IDF troops suffer from PTSD, as compared to 8% of US troops from the Iraq/Afghanistan War, and a 2%-17% incidence in militaries of other countries.

The study, cited by the Israel Forever Foundation, maintains that it is not the Israeli soldiers per se that make the difference; rather it is the unique situation of Israel.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has been beset with nearly constant war and terror attacks from surrounding hostile Arab countries. Further, much of Israel’s population were Holocaust survivors.

This has contributed to a certain resiliency and mental “toughness” among its citizens.

More importantly, soldiers in Israel are greatly loved and supported, regarded as family members. Everyone in Israel is, was, or knows soldiers personally; everyone sees soldiers everywhere, they are “our boys and girls.” The most compelling reason limiting PTSD in the IDF is probably the “collective purpose” of fighting for their homeland.