The Israel Defense Forces will soon bar soldiers from using their cellphones during training courses, Israel Hayom has learned.
In a letter sent out from the commander of the IDF's discipline branch Lt. Col. Oren Avraham, new guidelines have been drafted regarding soldiers' use of cellphones while on training bases. The new protocols, which were drafted with consultation by legal aides, bar the use of cellphones during "active hours as determined by the unit commander." If there is no designated location to place soldiers' phones, soldiers will be allowed to have their phones so long as they are turned off and the presence of phones does not pose a data security risk.
According to the new protocols a unit commander can permit a soldier to have carry a phone for army use or in case of a family emergency.
Until now there had been no clear set of rules regarding cellphone use in the IDF. According to an IDF official, "soldiers enlisting today are connected to their phones 24 hours a day. A soldier cannot be on their phone at a firing range, while on guard duty or during a lesson. People did not know what was and was not allowed. When there is no designated cellphone box provided, a soldier will just have it on them, because no one is going to set up a guard post just for cellphones."
The letter also included guidelines for cellphone use where an when allowed. According to Lt. Col. Avraham, one of the reasons leading up to the new protocols is the fact that "recently there had been a number of embarrassing incidents, in which soldiers took pictures inappropriate, damaging and disgraceful, while in uniform and carrying military weapons. These events damage the IDF's moral fortitude and go completely against the IDF's ethical code of conduct," he said.
Avraham referred to the scandal in which soldiers took pictures in the nude with weapons and sent them to one another. "Inappropriate use of phones represents a blow to the IDF's good name and represents a violation to IDF core values and human dignity, including: exposing classified information, violating discipline rules, and harming soldiers' ability to function during routine and operational duties."