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IDF chief dismisses officer who struck protester

Lt.-Col. Eisner relieved of his command in Jordan Valley Brigade; Gantz bars his promotion for two years. Eisner says 'will consider future in army'

Yoav Zitun
Published: 04.18.12, 12:36 / Israel News

The IDF has decided to take various disciplinary actions against Lt.-Col. Shalom Eisner, who struck a Danish pro-Palestinian protester with an M-16 rifle.

 

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz ordered Wednesday that Eisner be relieved of his duties as deputy commander of the IDF's Jordan Valley Brigade over "operational and ethical failures."

 

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According to an IDF statement, the decision was made after the initial inquiry into the incident faulted Eisner for conduct unbecoming an officer, and after Gantz consulted with GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen Nitzan Alon and GOC Army Headquarters Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman.

 

צילום: בכר עבד אל-חק, באדיבות Nablus TV, עריכה: אלי מנדלבאום

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Video courtesy of Nablus TV

Ganzt also ordered that the Eisner will not be eligible for any promotion in the next two years, effectively revoking his candidacy for head of Bahad 1 – the military's Officers Training Academy.

 

Eisner told reporters that he "received the ruling in the matter with a heavy heart. I'm physically and emotionally injured and I have to recuperate. I have to reconsider my future in the IDF, should I be offered another position."

 

Eisner's conduct was widely criticized by the IDF, with Gantz saying it went against the IDF's ethic.

 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak dismissed the officer's explanations for the incident, saying: "Completing missions and maintaining IDF norms and ethics are not mutually exclusive.

 

"Statement made over the past few days, suggesting that the officer's behavior was prompted by operational necessity are unacceptable."

 

Former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Rontzki commented on Gantz' decision to relieve Lt. Col. Eisner from duty, saying it "sends out a wrong message. 

 

"The junior officers might take a narrow-minded approach from now on and avoid contact during these sorts of events," he said.

 

Full video released

The video which led to Eisner's dismissal was panned for providing a heavily edited version of the events. The IDF scrambled to get a full version of the video and was able to obtain it on Wednesday.

 

The 25-minute video depicts the ride taken by pro-Palestinians and the events leading up to the skirmish between Eisner and the Danish protester.

 

The raw footage, taken by Nablus TV cameraman Bashar Abdul Hek, was filmed for a news report about the planned protest ride and does not depict the entire event.

 

In the moments leading up to the incident, an IDF officer is seen trying to talk to the protesters – who were blocking the road – in an attempt to bring the rally to its end.

 

Hek identified the officer as a DCO official who was "very courteous." The Danish protester is seen in the background several times, shouting various slogans.

 

The cameraman said he stopped filming for a while, and started again when the soldiers were about to remove the protesters from the road.

 

At this point of the footage, Eisner is seen on the bottom right of the screen, knocking down a female protester. He is then seen striking the Danish activist.

 

The footage also shows Eisner after he was injured – allegedly by the Danish protester – with his hand bandaged.

 

The IDF is still analyzing the video and deposing several witnesses as part of its investigation.

 

Elior Levy and Itamar Fleishman contributed to this report

 

 

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