Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter at a Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting, October 22, 2018.

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have decided that Brigadier General Ofer Winter, who has been denied an assignment for the past year and a half and was not included in the latest round of top-level assignments, will be released from the IDF.

Religious Zionism Chairman, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, commented on the decision to release Brigadier General Ofer Winter from the IDF:

Is it clear now why the commanders who failed must not shape the future generation of the army? One of the first lessons from 10/7 should have been the immediate appointment of Ofer Winter to the senior command so that he would introduce offensive propensities and intellectual sharpness to the IDF. The fact that he is removed from the army after proving himself under fire is outrageous and is a step in the opposite direction of what the IDF needs.

Some on the right suggested Saturday night that those who blocked Winter’s path to become a future IDF chief of staff will meet him later on as defense minister, as has been the case with Ariel Sharon and Yoav Gallant.

Winter, 53, was attacked by Israel’s leftist media during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, after issuing, on July 9, 2014, a Commander’s Battle Order that was rife with Biblical references:

“History has chosen us to be at the forefront of the fight against the terrorist enemy in Gaza, who insults and blasphemes the God of Israel. I raise my eyes to heaven and recite with you, ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord Is our God, the Lord Is one.’ The God of Israel, grant us success as we are going to fight for your people Israel against an enemy that sullies Your name.”

Winter’s Givati Brigade killed many terrorists, and exposed and destroyed Hamas tunnels and infrastructure. The brigade had a central role in the Rafah battle, in which Benaya Sarel, Hadar Goldin, and Liel Gideoni were killed, and eliminated 42 terrorists and dozens of civilians. In a lecture Winter gave in 2021, he said that he was opposed to the action that started the battle, because he believed that its risk outweighed its benefit, but the commander of the Southern Command, General Sami Turgeman, decided to carry it out anyway.

On August 9, 2020, Winter was appointed as Chief of the 98th “Ha-Esh” Paratroopers Division.

On June 9, 2021, then-Chief of Staff, Let. Gen. Aviv Kochavi reprimanded Winter over a conversation he had with national religious MK Naftali Bennett, without receiving permission from, nor later reporting it to his superiors, contrary to the IDF protocol.

It should be noted that Winter served as Bennett’s military secretary only one year earlier, and Kochavi chose to nail him for the most common breach of protocol in the informal relationships between high ranking IDF officers and senior politicians.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter (to his left), at a meeting in the Pentagon, Feb. 4, 2020. / DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James K. Lee

Winter ended his assignment at the 98th Paratroopers Division on September 21, 2022, and was kept away from active service ever since.

On the morning of Simchat Torah, October 7, 2023, when the first news arrived about the surprise Hamas attack, Winter drove to the front on his own initiative, joined the fighters in the area of Kibbutz Be’eri, and participated in the battle in which 11 terrorists were killed.

Halevi’s decision regarding sending Winter home, as well as his appointment of five new senior IDF commanders (Behind Closed Doors, in the Dark, the Team that Gave Us October 7 Appoints Its Successors), Chief of Staff Halevi appears determined to continue serving at least until the end of his term, despite his astounding failure to prevent the Hamas attack and its lingering consequences.

A Chief of Staff who is on the eve of his departure––as has been assumed about Halevi following the spectacular disaster of October 7––does appoint new members of the General Staff, except in exceptional cases, and even then, only following consultations with his successor, who would be working with them. But no successor to Halevi has been named, which means that the new team has been picked to serve under him for the next two years or so.

The most questionable Halevi appointment is of Lt. Col. Shlomi Binder to replace the head of Military Intelligence, Major General Aharon Haliva, who resigned following his devastating failure to foresee the Hamas attack on October 7. As head of the IDF Operations Division, Binder was directly involved in the October 7 disaster. He is expected to be at the center of investigations regarding his role as head of the division that collapsed during the first hours of the invasion of the Gaza envelope settlements, abandoning the Israeli residents.

It makes me wonder how serious the IDF, the defense ministry, and the entire Netanyahu cabinet are going to be about prosecuting the individuals responsible for October 7, seeing as the men who were in charge of the IDF at the time continue to call the shots.

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