Top IDF officer criticizes Givati commander following sexual harassment cases

DF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz backs Turgeman in investigation.

January 2, 2015 15:14
1 minute read.
Sami Turgeman and Natan Sharansky

OC SOUTHERN COMMAND Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky chat at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. (photo credit: DAVID SHECHTER)

Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgeman, head of the IDF Southern Command, issued a written reprimand to Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter on Friday, after a battalion commander and a company commander in the brigade came under suspicion of sexually harassment in separate Military Police investigations.

The rebuke comes after Turgeman carried out a regional command-level inquiry. He concluded that, while Winter did not conceal or distort the incidents while dealing with them, there was room for improvement in adhering to regulations for responding to allegations of sexual harassment.

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IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.

Benny Gantz reviewed Turgeman’s investigation, backed it, and said that in such incidents, military commanders must act according to accepted practice.

Gantz also said the IDF regulations should be “refreshed” and that senior commanders must ensure that all officers are familiar with them. He praised Winter’s operational performance during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer. Gantz said he “does not doubt that the brigade will continue to form a significant part in the IDF’s operational and leading force.”

Gantz and Turgeman expressed full confidence in the Givati Brigade and in Winter’s abilities.

On Thursday, Gantz dismissed the commander of a Givati Brigade battalion who is under a Military Police investigation for sexual harassment of female soldiers under his command.

Lt.-Col. Liran Hajbi’s actions were found to contain “failings that do not match up with the norms and values of the IDF,” the military said in a statement.

Gantz made the decision on the recommendation of Turgeman.

Speaking to Israel Air Force cadets on Thursday who had completed the Pilot’s Course, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said: “The IDF is a moral military that acts according to norms and ethics without compromise.

When irregular things are found, we deal with them with the utmost severity. We are aware of the importance of fostering trust in commanders on the part of soldiers and the parents who send them to the IDF. We demand of each commander – junior and high ranking – to lead by personal example and with their values. We will not settle for less than that. Those who stray from the path will not be with us.”

Hajbi’s family and friends have vehemently denied the suspicions.

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