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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Chief of Staff’

Liberman Reads Riot Act to Army Radio Chief Despite AG’s Objections

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

New Israeli defense minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) has spent his first month in office directing the military apparatus in substantially different directions, most notably his order for the generals to come up with a concrete plan to remove the Hamas government in Gaza — it turned out they hadn’t thought it would be useful to have one. And as the defense ministry and the army are starting to sound and act in a different manner than they did under Liberman’s predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), the new defense boss is mending the more ideological aspects of the military system. He has added his support to the chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot’s call to shut down the left-leaning Army Radio station, and on Thursday he became directly involved in the same station’s programming.

To be precise, earlier this week the Army Radio station devoted a program to the poetic works of Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008), a member of the Israeli Communist party who is widely perceived as a “Palestinian symbol” and served as an artistic spokesman for Arab opposition to Israel. In 1988, one of his poems, “Those Who Pass Between Fleeting Words,” was cited in the Knesset by Yitzhak Shamir (Likud) for demanding that the Jews leave Israel:

“O those who pass between fleeting words / As bitter dust, go where you wish, but / Do not pass between us like flying insects / For we have work to do in our land,” Darwish called on Israel’s Jews, and concluded: “So leave our country / Our land, our sea / Our wheat, our salt, our wounds / Everything, and leave / The memories of memory / O those who pass between fleeting words!”

Following the broadcast on Army Radio, which included Darwish’s texts in its “Broadcast University” series on “Israeli founding texts,” Defense Minister Liberman summoned Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel to a disciplinary hearing Thursday at noon.

“On its face it appears to be a serious issue, whereby someone who wrote anti-Zionist texts that are still fueling acts of terrorism against the State of Israel merits to be included along with his texts by the military station in the foundation texts of Israeli society, together with Jerusalem of Gold and The Silver Tray (two popular and very beautiful song by Naomi Shemer and Natan Alterman respectively),” Liberman said. “Obviously this constitutes an [ideological] eclipse which cannot be ignored.”

On Wednesday night Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit phoned Liberman to inform him that he does not have the authority to intervene in the Army Station’s programming. Mandelblit based his warning on a 2015 opinion by Vice Counsel on Legislation Affairs Dina Zilber, that ruled against ministers intervening in the military station.

And now Liberman decided to ignore Zilber’s opinion, which is almost unheard of in Israeli governmental politics. In many ways this might prove to be Liberman’s bravest act so far, and he may live to pay for it as an irate judicial civil service could rise up against him.

Already the president of the Press Council, retired Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, told Israel Radio that the intervention by the Minister of Defense in Army Radio broadcasting was dangerous, and said that it frightened her. “I cannot believe this is happening,” she told left-leaning hot Aryeh Golan Thursday morning. Yes, the red wagons are being circled.

David Israel

Former Netanyahu Chief of Staff Ari Harrow Interrogated A Second Time

Monday, July 18th, 2016

The former chief of staff for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned a second time under caution on Monday.

Ari Harrow was taken for questioning last week upon his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport, although he was told he was not being arrested.

After 14 hours of interrogation “under caution” — implying he was indeed a suspect in the unspecified investigation — he was released to five days of house arrest.

The interrogation was carried out in connection with a probe into allegations of fraud in an initial investigation into the activities of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family, as well as other government figures.

A spokesperson for Israel Police said the National Fraud Investigation Unit last week asked Harrow to provide testimony about Netanyahu’s alleged financial misappropriations.

Earlier last week Israeli Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit ordered an initial probe into the prime minister’s actions as part of the wider investigation of financial activity by government officials.

Harrow served as chief of staff to Netanyahu in 2014.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Media Reporting on Hebron Shooter Trial Strictly Political

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

“Sitting next to his parents, with a blank face, [Sergeant Elor] Azaria is realizing the defense arguments are collapsing,” Shabtay Bendet wrote in Walla last Thursday, on the trial of the medic who last Purim in Hebron shot to death an Arab Terrorist who had already been neutralized and was lying on the pavement. An Arab B’Tselem cameraman captured the incident, and as a result what would have ended in a disciplinary hearing for the shooter, at most, quickly turned into a murder charge which was then reduced to a manslaughter indictment by the IDF prosecutor.

“These last few days of hearings did not bode well for the soldier, accused of killing a terrorist,” wrote Bendet, as if the term “terrorist” was a kind of civilian occupation, and could be easily substituted with “housewife” or “driving instructor,” or “electrician.” Bendet continued: “One after the other the witnesses undercut the defense claim that the terrorist posed a real threat of carrying an explosive charge on his person. Meanwhile, Azaria and his family have been maintaining their silence, except for one outburst borne by the realization that things are not great [for them].”

Bendet’s report about how the prosecution has been winning the Azaria trial mirrors countless reports with a similar message which have saturated Israel’s media over the weekend. And, naturally, the further to the left the writer, the broader the implications of the Azaria manslaughter case regarding the entire Netanyahu government and its policies in Judea and Samaria.

Ravit Hecht criticized in Haaretz on Friday Azaria’s father’s emotional call on Prime Minister Netanyahu to intervene in hi son’s case. “The father is calling on the prime minister to, in effect, take action against the army,” she wrote. “The father is turning to the prime minister to sabotage the machinery of the very system with which he is trusted.”

Hecht then goes on to accuse Netanyahu of always sabotaging the systems he is trusted with, but it’s clear from her approach that a conviction in the Azaria case is the proper outcome, while, should the 19-year-old sergeant be acquitted, democracy would be in peril.

Bendet, for his part, misunderstands the central issue in this case, which has made it such a tough case for the prosecution, they had to go and recruit outside talent from Israel’s top litigation firm. The case depends not on the objective conditions near the Hebron check point on the morning of the incident and whether or not there was a realistic expectation of the terrorist carrying explosives on his body, but on the state of mind of the shooter at the time: did Sergeant Azaria believe the terrorist posed a credible threat while on the ground?

But even regarding the rules of engagement as they were understood at the time of the incident, the prosecution’s testimonies are problematic, if not outright tainted, according to Moshe Ifergan, writing for Mida Saturday.

“Don’t believe what the media are telling you,” Ifergen insisted. “Judicially speaking, the testimonies of the division commander, the soldier and the company sergeant who were at the scene prove that the prosecution has collapsed. Severe internal contradictions in witnesses’ testimonies and obstructions of the investigation on the part of the command level should lead to a mistrial.”

Ifergen accuses the IDF of intervening in the investigation in a manner that hopelessly polluted the evidence and the testimony. Kalman Liebskind, writing for Ma’ariv also accused then defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF chief of staff Gabi Eizenkot of jumping to damning conclusions before the investigation had begun, and essentially shutting out any testimony that contradicted their strong and unmistaken condemnation of the accused. The defense was able to elicit from several witnesses, rank and file soldiers in Azaria’s unit, testimony about the massive campaign on the part of the division commander and the new battalion commander to condemn the accused.

A central question in the case, which everyone involved, including the judge, keep going back to, is the prosecution’s argument that the behavior of the soldiers in the B’Tselem video does not show that they were concerned about an explosive charge on the terrorist’s body, which the defense says was the reason Azaria shot him on the ground. Since these soldiers had undergone special training to handle explosives in such a situation, goes the argument, their lack of concern is evidence that no such threat existed at the time, ergo Azaria shot the terrorist because he hates Arabs.

But the protocols suggest otherwise. Here’s one exchange:

Defense: You underwent instruction with visualized situations of isolating a terror attack scene?

Soldier M: No.

D: You underwent instruction and situations where there was concern for an explosive charge on a terrorist?

M: No.

D: And on the terrorist’s body?

M: No.

D: The division commander who testified here said in an announcement [date omitted] that he instructed the commanders at the check point in Kiryat Arba (near Hebron) with the complete set of scenarios and that he wants to believe that this was passed on to all the soldiers. To you it wasn’t passed?

M: No, it wasn’t passed.

. . .

D: [A previous witness, an enlisted man] says like you’re saying, that you didn’t undergo training in situations of isolating an attack scene, and he says you didn’t undergo instruction and visualizing of situations where there was concern for an explosive load on the body of a terrorist?

M: No, just like I said a minute ago.

D: The company commander also confirms this regarding a lack of instruction for explosive charges here. Does this match your version?

M: Yes.

The defense questioned three witnesses on this point, proving without the shadow of a doubt that while the division chief had instructed his commanders on the rules of engagement and protocol regarding a terrorist suspected of carrying a charge, the commanders did not consequently train their own underlings, which would suggest that the reason they appear care free and unafraid of an impending explosion was ignorance.

Meanwhile, earlier in the proceedings, the defense received confirmation to its point regarding the danger of an explosive from a prosecution witness, Sergeant A.

Prosecutor: When you arrived on the scene, what was your assignment?

A: To secure the terrorist who was situated at the bottom part of the slope, [dressed] in black, and to isolate the scene.

P: Who gave you this assignment?

A: Meir Avni (company commander).

P: What did he tell you regarding the terrorist?

A: He said the terrorist was still alive and there’s a concern about a charge on his person, I shouldn’t let people coming from down below to get close.

This was then used poignantly by the defense.

Defense: [Company Commander] Avni knows about the concern regarding the charge, this contrary to the testimony of the Division Commander.

A: Correct.

D: And he instructs you not to go near the terrorist, to wait for the sapper and stay away from him.

A: Yes, [but] on point there’s one correction, I was instructed especially to stand behind the sapper and make sure people who are not part of the security forces not go near.

The odds on an acquittal or a mistrial for Sergeant Azaria among legal professionals who are interviewed by the media are about fifty-fifty. With one military judge already having been forced to recuse herself following an accusation of conflict of interests, and with the security establishment appearing so heavily invested in getting a conviction, it won’t be an easy task for the military judicial panel to rule against the system. But the case for both an acquittal and a mistrial appears strong, so that there’s little doubt that a conviction would result in an appeal to the civilian Supreme Court.

JNi.Media

IDF Chief Cancels Hannibal Directive to Prevent Capture at All Cost

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has recently ordered the cancellation of the Hannibal Directive, to be replaced by a new directive which is being worked out, Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday, citing a senior IDF source who claims the chief’s decision had been reached independent of a leaked draft of the State Comptroller which recommends taking out the Hannibal option.

According to Israeli media, the Hannibal Directive was conceived in 1986 by a group of top Israeli officers following the capture of two Israeli soldiers during a Hezbollah ambush in South Lebanon in June 1986. Both soldiers presumably died during the attack, and their bodies were returned to Israel in an exchange with Hezbollah in 1996. The directive authorizes stopping abductors by shooting at them, even if it puts captured Israeli soldiers at risk. There is a dispute as to whether the directive includes authorization to kill captured IDF soldiers when it becomes clear that they cannot be rescued. Some reports have claimed that the policy actually promotes the killing of captured soldiers to prevent the need for prisoner exchanges.

On Tuesday Israeli media reported a leak from a draft recommendation by State Comptroller Retired Judge Joseph Shapiro, which had been handed to seniors in the political, military and judiciary echelons as part of the comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza War.

The Hannibal Directive was last executed in connection with the kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin of the Givati special force, during the Rafah battle in August 2014, remembered as Black Friday. Once it was known that Goldin had been kidnapped, a widespread chase ensued, which included infantry units as well as a mass shelling of the area, which resulted in the deaths of many civilians.

Eventually it turned out that Goldin had been killed during the kidnapping attempt, and his body is being kept as a bargaining chip by the Hamas. The Military Attorney General at the time, Gen. Danny Efroni, and the new MAG Gen. Sharon Afek have both considered and decided to forego a criminal investigation of the event, because of international criticism over the large number of collateral civilian casualties.

JNi.Media

Report: IDF Prosecutor, Brass, Media Railroading Sergeant Elor Azaria

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Political activist Baruch Marzel is identified strongly with the radical rightwing in Israel. He even ran for the Knesset on the extreme rightwing party Otzma LeYisrael list and has been visible in its many events of political street theater during the last election and the elections before that. After the medic Sergeant Elor Azaria had shot dead a terrorist who was already lying on the ground, “neutralized,” in Hebron last Purim, Marzel reportedly shook the shooter’s hand. Marzel also told anyone who would have cared to listen at the time that security forces were keeping him and other civilians away from the stabbing site where two terrorists were under guard, meaning there was fear one of them could blow himself up.

Ma’ariv reporter Kalman Liebskind noted on Saturday that there’s no doubt Baruch Marzel believed Azaria’s shooting was justified, surely on ideological grounds but also, it appears, based on the IDF rules of engagement. So how come, asks Liebskind, Military Police never took down Marzel’s testimony? Does it mean the MPs were only soliciting testimonies that fit an already preconceived theory on the shooting? It’s starting to look that way, Liebskind argues.

The most disturbing point about the Azaria episode is the counter-intuitive behavior of the IDF brass. One would have thought that in the case of an excellent soldier with a perfect record such as Sergeant Azaria, the IDF would be invested in finding him not guilty. But the fact is that the IDF prosecution is invested not only in finding him guilty, but in having him suffer humiliating conditions through the process, and associating him with political interests that he is not remotely connected to. And to make sure they find him guilty, the military prosecution conscripted one of Israel’s top litigators, Nadav Weisman, to lead its team.

So why are so many top officers and politicians, including the IDF chief of staff, the IDF spokesperson, and the former defense minister, so invested in giving the IDF a bad name should the court decide against Sergeant Azaria? Is it because they committed themselves early on to the B’Tselem version of events, based on a video, smeared a soldier’s name in public, accusing him of murder — and now they’ll look bad should he be found not guilty?

“The situation we’re in, with IDF and security apparatus senior officials who are crossing their fingers and praying for the conviction of the soldier and for a ruling that the terrorist was eliminated in an illegal manner — this might be the real story,” writes Liebskind.

Last Thursday, Azaria’s company commander Major Tom Naaman testified against him. There’s no doubt that his testimony did not help the defendant’s case. But then Israeli media began to report a huge incitement campaign against Naaman, complete with death threats. This incitement story was then repeated like a mantra by politicians, until eventually it became an established fact — the brave officer who dared testify against the shooter Azaria is now in fear for his life because of the thousands of rightwing hooligans looking to get even with him.

The only problem with this story is that it never actually happened. The website Perspectiva contacted the two biggest social network monitoring companies in Israel, which showed that on Facebook there had been only 100 large scale group discussions of the testimony, of which 68 were critical. Altogether, over the entire period there were 4,400 entries online mentioning Naaman’s name, out of which 1,500 used blunt language that could be described as crossing a red line. This out of 3.3 million daily entries on Facebook in Israel.

When former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon attacked Sergeant Azaria, he was vilified in 1,600 group conversations per day, and when President Rivlin spoke at a Breaking the Silence gathering in New York he was the subject of 1,000 daily hostile large-scale conversations online. The response to the company commander’s testimony was truly puny in comparison — but the powers that be in Israel’s politics and media needed a witch hunt against him, so a witch hunt they reported.

It was also an opportunity for Kfir Brigade commander, Col. Guy Hazut, and other senior officers to tell the media they supported Major Naaman, who stands alone against the mob of rightwing thugs — never mind that they are imaginary.

“Imagine what goes on inside the head of a soldier who is supposed to testify in this trial and wishes to support [the defendant] Azaria’s version,” writes Liebskind. “He has to be nuts to do it. He knows his testimony would contradict the testimony of his company commander, that it would show up the chief of staff, that it negates the perception of his brigade commander. Can anyone take seriously any of the testimonies in this case?”

Finally, Liebskind compares the two testimonies given by Major Naaman. In the first one, shortly after the shooting, Naaman repeats the very same answer: “I approached the soldier, asked him why he did it, and he said he saw [the terrorist] move.” Naaman later the same day told the MPs, “When I asked Elor after the event, on the side, what happened, he told me he saw him moving and that’s why he shot.” The MP investigator asked him, “In your opinion, did Elor feel danger from the terrorists who were lying down?” and Naaman responded, “I don’t know. I don’t think so, maybe he saw him moving and got scared.”

One night later, with the media circus celebrating all around the episode, Naaman gave a second testimony, and the version he had repeated four times, about Azaria telling him he had seen the terrorist, vanished. Instead, Naaman shared that Azaria told him the terrorist “needed to die.”

Two days later, Naaman gave yet another testimony, and now he told investigators: “I asked him why he did it and he told me, this terrorist is alive and he needs to die.”

When Azaria’s attorneys asked Naaman in court which of his testimonies they should go with, did the terrorist move, didn’t he, Naaman answered, “Now I don’t recall exactly.”

Needless to say, Liebskind does not believe it is possible for the court to make a reliable ruling with this much pollution surrounding the testimonies.

JNi.Media

Liberman: Let No Terrorist Come Out Alive from Any Attack

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Last year, nine months before he was appointed Defense Minister, MK Avigdor Liberman posted on his Facebook page his expectations of the cabinet meeting to be convened at noon following the terrorist attacks. Liberman listed his expectations as follows:

1. No male or female terrorist comes out alive from any terrorist attack.

2. Adopt the rules of engagement common in the United States.

3. Revoke the residency of every eastern Jerusalem resident involved in terrorist activity.

4. Activate emergency laws and impose martial law wherever needed in order to defeat terrorism.

Liberman concluded: I remind the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet, words don’t stop terrorists. Security is achieved through an iron fist.

Avigdor Liberman's recommendations on dealing with terror - before he became Defense Minister

Avigdor Liberman’s recommendations on dealing with terror – before he became Defense Minister

This vehement call for an unabashed, strong-armed treatment of terrorism was posted on October 13, 2015, one of the toughest days in the current wave of terror, when MK Liberman was still just another member of the opposition. In the Aramon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, two Arab terrorists boarded a bus, one carrying a gun the other a knife, and started attacking passengers at random until police overtook them. Two passengers were killed and seven injured, among them two women who were in critical condition.

A short while later there was a car ramming attack on Malchei Israel Street in Jerusalem, where one man, 59, was murdered and three injured. The terrorist exited his car and started stabbing pedestrians, until police finally arrived on the scene and neutralized him.

Then, in Ra’anana, an Arab terrorist, 22, from eastern Jerusalem arrived at the central bus station and stabbed one person, 32. Local civilians managed to subdue the terrorist.

It’s possible that Liberman and Netanyahu are implementing at least some of the points the defense minister posted some nine months ago. Israeli media on Thursday morning, following the massacre of four innocent Israelis in a downtown Tel Aviv café, reported a few stern steps which are being taken by security forces and the government.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Gen. Yoav Mordechai announced the freezing of 83,000 entry permits issued to Judea and Samaria Arabs to visit their families inside the green line, as a show of good will for the month of Ramadan. In addition, all the gestures given residents of Gaza, including permits to pray on the Temple Mount were frozen. And 204 visitation permits issued to the families of terrorists in Israeli prisons were revoked.

Issuing those gestures of good will were, in fact, the first act in office of the new defense minister, on the recommendation of the IDF chief of staff, as part of the policy of improving the quality of life of the Palestinian population.

The two terrorist cousins, 21, who last night attacked the heart of Tel Aviv’s nightlife came from Yatta village south of Hebron. Overnight the IDF raided their homes and interrogated their families. The security apparatus is investigating how the pair made it through the green line and who helped them.

David Israel

Report: Israel Attacked Missile Stocks at Syrian Military Base

Tuesday, June 7th, 2016

Syrian website Zaman Al Wasl reported Tuesday that the Israeli air force over the weekend attacked a military installation south of Homs, with an air defense division and a compound of an air defense school of the Syrian Army. According to the report, the Israeli planes did not train their rockets at the air defense systems but focused on the base warehouses, which were stocked with anti-aircraft missiles. The attack resulted in major damage to the stocks.

According to reports, the Israeli airforce planes flew very low above the region, and were exposed throughout the attack to the defense systems, but the Syrians apparently held back and did not fire at the attackers.

The Homs area is a war theater involving President Assad’s forces, rebel forces and ISIS troops, but Zaman Al Wasl, which has a reputation for reliable reports, insists the attackers were Israeli.

Defense Minister Liberman visits the northern front

Defense Minister Liberman visits the northern front

This would be the first attack ordered by the new defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who on Tuesday visited the northern front with Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and senior officers in the Northern Command.

During the tour, Liberman said, “I’ve been hearing today reviews of this region, which is always sensitive, and I can say that our northern border is in good and secure hands.” He noted: “We have no plans here other than to maintain the quiet, I hope everyone understands this well enough, including our neighbors, and in any case I don’t suggest for anyone to try and test us.”

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/report-israel-attacked-missile-stocks-at-syrian-military-base/2016/06/07/

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