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IDF dismisses officer from post for hitting Danish activist (ISRAEL HAYOM) Lilach Shoval 04/18/12)Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=4003 Israel Hayom Israel Hayom Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz decides to remove Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, who hit Danish protester in the face, from his post • Army top brass calls Eisner´s actions a moral failure • Eisner is shown on Israeli television, asking: What is more important – the mission or coming across well on television?

Top brass in the Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday decided to dismiss the Jordan Valley brigade Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner from his post on moral grounds, after video footage surfaced showing him hitting a Danish left-wing activist in the face with his rifle.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz removed Eisner from his post on Wednesday, following consultations with GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon, and the Chief of the Ground Forces Command Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman.

Gantz said the investigation into the incident showed it was flawed by operational and command failures – both in the army´s preparation for the activists´ protest ride and in how the soldiers handled the confrontation that ensued. The army continues to handle the case.

Following his dismissal, Eisner will not be able to serve as the deputy commander of the IDF Officers´ School (Training Base 1) and will not be eligible to serve in commanding positions over the next two years.

The video, documenting a confrontation Saturday between Israeli soldiers and left-wing International Solidarity Movement demonstrators near Jericho, was made public on Sunday, and gained widespread exposure by media outlets in Israel and abroad. In the video, Eisner is seen smashing his rifle into the face of unarmed Danish activist Andreas Ias. Ias maintains that the assault was unprovoked, while Eisner says that Ias assaulted him with a stick and broke one of his fingers.

Meanwhile, Eisner met Maj. Gen. Alon on Tuesday, during which Alon told him his actions constituted "a moral failure."

Also on Tuesday, Alon presented conclusions from the operational investigation into Eisner´s conduct to IDF chief Gantz. The chief of staff did not accept the report in its entirety and sent a research team to do additional work.

On Monday night, Alon held an inquiry into the incident with the commander of the 162nd Armor Division Brig. Gen. Agai Yehezkel, Jordan Valley Commander Col. Nochi Mendel, and Eisner. An IDF source said that military investigations take time to complete, especially when many forces are involved, such as the Border Police, Military Police Corps and the Military Police Corps Investigation Unit, among others.

Eisner, for his part, on Tuesday expressed little regret or remorse for what happened.

Channel 10 news broadcast an audio recording of Eisner in which he said: "There is a question here of what is more important, to complete the mission or look good in front of the camera? I argue that the mission is important enough, they say it isn´t, perhaps I´m wrong and they´re right … We know the history of these anarchists, they came with sticks and broke my hand, but they won´t share or videotape that."

Eisner said that, according to his medical diagnosis, he had a broken pinky finger and also pointed out that the physical confrontation lasted all of two minutes. "In the end I used [my rifle] … I used the weapon in a cold way, like a stick. I didn’t kill anyone and didn´t endanger anyone´s life … in order to complete the mission and to prevent my soldiers from being harmed. My feeling is that the protesters themselves said afterward that the only reason they stopped the protest and didn´t push further was because the deputy commander acted like that."

However, according to Eisner, "All these stories don´t interest our chief of general staff or the GOC."

Eisner still doesn´t believe he failed morally or in upholding the IDF´s purity of arms: "Now we have a few questions here. I said it could be that using the weapon in front of the cameras was a professional error … I told the general, I told the division commander, that in no way do I accept that I failed morally."

According to Eisner, had he not acted in the determined manner he did, the IDF would have sustained damage to its reputation. "What, if they would have filmed IDF soldiers backing down in the face of a wild crowd, that would sound better? What, I´m going to let them start blocking my roads? I´m going to let them put lives in danger? That sounds better? Someone on duty got his hand broken, and the general, even before the images came out he knew my hand was broken, he understood the significance of anarchists breaking the hand of an IDF lieutenant colonel. Nobody would [let that happen]."

An IDF source said in response that Eisner´s comments show he apparently doesn´t understand the moral and ethical failure of his actions.

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