Col. Ilan Malka 311.
(photo credit: IDF )
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz has decided to promote former
Givati Brigade commander Col. Ilan Malka to the rank of brigadier-general after
a three-year legal saga, putting to rest the last criminal investigation into
Operation Cast Lead.
Malka commanded the Givati Brigade during the Cast
Lead offensive against Hamas in Gaza, which was launched on December 27, 2008.
Last month, The Jerusalem Post reported on senior field commanders’ criticism of
the Military Advocate General’s office which the officers accused of dragging
its feet in ruling on Malka’s case.
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Former military advocate general
(MAG) Maj.-Gen. (res.) Avichai Mandelblit – who retired earlier this year –
decided to launch a criminal investigation against Malka in early 2010 over
allegations that he ordered an airstrike on a building in Gaza despite allegedly
knowing that it was occupied by civilians.
Last week, the MAG completed
its investigation of Malka and cleared him of criminal wrongdoing. Gantz
summoned Malka for a meeting and announced his decision to promote him to the
rank of brigadier general, although for the time being to a desk job and not yet
in a command post, like the commander of a division.
Other IDF officers
who commanded brigades during the operation – such as then-Paratrooper’s Brigade
commander Hertzi Halevy and then-commander of the 401st Armored Brigade Yigal
Slovik – have since been promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. They both
serve in senior field command posts.
The investigation against Malka
focused on the bombing on January 5, 2009, during the ground offensive stage of
the three-week operation, of a home in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood which
killed 21 members of the Samouni family.
The case was highlighted in the
Goldstone Report – which investigated alleged Israeli war crimes during the
operation – and Mandelblit decided to launch a Military Police investigation
almost two years ago to rule out the possibility that Malka ordered the strike
while knowing civilians were inside.
Due to the investigation, Malka’s
promotion was put on hold and he has served as chief operations officer for the
Central Command since. The IDF has yet to announce what position Malka will
receive in the upcoming round of appointments expected to be determined in the