Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

3 IDF soldiers from the same unit kill themselves within weeks of the Gaza ceasefire

This is messed up

In the weeks after Israel and Hamas agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, three Israeli soldiers decided to end their lives with their own weapons. And what was especially striking about their suicides was that all served in the same unit, the Givati Brigade, which had a reputation for its ruthless ferocity, considerable bravery, and the use of Old Testament religiosity to justify the merciless operations of its commander, Colonel Ofer Winter.

So why did it happen?

A contributing factor, according to Staff Sergeant J., who served in the Givati Brigade in the middle of the last decade, and does not want to be named, is that secular Israelis are now avoiding the military or declining to continue after mandatory service. “Those who do continue feel a religious and political duty,” he says. This has been discussed as a concern by Israeli academics and analysts for years.

The staff sergeant said that when he was in the Givati Brigade in 2007 or so, it was “openly secular.” He recalls “there was a group who had come from the yeshiva,” but “often they were uncomfortable… they felt sidelined.” As secular Israelis left, however, the vacancies were filled by settlers, he said.

Could any of this, or some of this, or none of this have affected the decision of three Givati soldiers to take their own lives? The Daily Beast reached out to several post-traumatic stress disorder specialists for their analysis.

“It is strange that they hadn’t seen a mental-health counselor,” said Mooli Lahad, an Israeli psychiatrist and psychotrauma specialist with over three decades of experience. He was citing reports that the Givati soldiers hadn’t received treatment. “This isn’t common for the IDF,” he said.

Lahad stressed that suicide usually has to do with pre-existing issues, such as depression, and an accumulation of factors can lead to a sense of hopelessness, which counseling helps to prevent.

“Sometimes, if there is a particularly macho culture, seeking help for depression or PTSD is seen as showing weakness, which is discouraged,” Lahad said. “If there’s a commander who thinks God is whispering in his ear, this can make things even more difficult.”

The article also speaks of religious radicalization of the Israeli military due to the role of fundamentalist settlements. 

Arcmed Al Mashtal Hotel

A five star hotel in Hamas controlled Gaza?

Arcmed Al Mashtal Hotel

Earlier this month, the hotel’s developer, Palestinian investment company Padico decided to finally open it. The company, controlled by politically independent billionaire Munib al-Masri, hopes to recover at least some of its costs and hopes that Gaza’s knotty problems may finally be solved in the coming years.

“Its risky — but we need to have a change in Gaza,” said public relations manager Shadi Agha.

For now, the risk is not paying off. There are no foreign tourists in Gaza, just a handful of Western aid officials who pass through.

Only 80 rooms are even available. Management doesn’t want to spend on maintenance for the remaining rooms, Agha said. Early this month, there were just 10 guests in the entire hotel, though the royal suite, at $880 a night, was occupied.

The guests ranged from international aid officials to a honeymooning Gaza couple who wanted to go somewhere nice, Agha said. He wouldn’t identify them further or say who was in the royal suite.