Controversial commander’s promotion draws criticism

August 16, 2011 04:17

Col. Itay Virob was reprimanded two years ago for saying using physical force to restrain Palestinians during arrest operations was permissible.

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IDF chief of General Staff Benny Gantz [file]

Benny Gantz 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz decided Monday to promote former Kfir Brigade commander Col. Itay Virob.

Virob was reprimanded two years ago for saying it was permissible on rare occasions to use physical force to restrain Palestinians during arrest operations in the West Bank.

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He will be promoted to the rank of brigadier-general and will serve as the IDF’s next chief infantry and paratroopers officer.

Other appointments included Golani Brigade commander Col. Ofek Buchris who will become a reserves division commander, and Nahal Brigade commander Col. Amir Abulafia who will also become a reserves division commander.

Virob made the comment during testimony he gave at the trial of a platoon commander from the brigade who was indicted for attacking a Palestinian detainee during a military operation in the village of Kadum near Nablus.

At the time, Virob was reprimanded by commander of the Central Command and Military Advocate General Maj.-Gen. Avichai Mandelblit decided to open a criminal investigation against the former brigade commander following a petition by Yesh Din.

Lt.-Col. (res.) Oded Savoray, who represented Virob during his investigation, said Monday the decision to promote Virob was natural after the Military Police and the MAG closed the case against his client.

“The MAG closed the case against Col. Virob after the Military Police investigation found that he did not commit a crime,” Savoray said.

“Despite the way his remark was understood in court, the investigation found he never used violence, never ordered his subordinates to use violence and never supported the use of violence.”

Yesh Din issued a statement in response to Virob’s promotion saying it sent a wrong message throughout the IDF.

“The promotion of Col. Virob, who justified beating innocent civilians, shows the IDF has not internalized the importance of treating the Palestinian civilian population with respect and how such a move will be interpreted as justification for the use of violence by younger officers,” Yesh Din said.

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