Several prominent rabbis expressed their support for Lieutenant-Colonel Shalom Eisner, who was suspended after assaulting a Danish pro-Palestinian activist with an M-16 rifle, saying that the military's decision to suspend him was impetuous.
Eisner expressed remorse over his action, saying that while he should not have flung his weapon at the activist, the video footage released depicted only "60 seconds out of a two-hour event."
Rabbi Haim Drukman, who was Eisner's mentor, described his former pupil as "a fine man, an idealist. He didn’t choose a military career because he needed a job – he is there to give his life for the security of Israel," he told Ynet Monday.
"Seeing such images is naturally disturbing, he continued, "But that's just a few seconds that do not depict the entire incident. This is not someone who likes violence. He found himself in an unusual situation and this is what happened."
Rabbi Drukman further said that he was sure the IDF inquiry into the incident will "get to the bottom of things."
Former Chief IDF Rabbi Avihai Ronski slammed the decision to suspend Eisner, who he described as "a highly ethical individual."
The reaction, he said, "most likely stemmed from the fact that the activist had just assaulted him and broke his hand. It was instinctual."
Ronski also questioned what he called the rash decision to suspend the officer: "What's the rush? Conduct your inquiry first and impose discipline only if the result warrants it.
"How can you say this was 'a serious event' after only a few seconds of footage? These kinds of incidents are why today's commanders feel they have no backing."
Military Judge Advocate General Brigadier-General Avi Mandelblit ordered a criminal investigation against Eisner.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz condemned the incident, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "Such conduct does not represent the IDF, its officers and soldiers and is utterly unacceptable."
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