Four years ago, almost to the day, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
presented the findings of the last internal IDF probe he conducted.
date was July 10, 2006 – just two days before war broke out with Hizbullah in
the North – when Eiland, a former head of the IDF’s Strategic Planning
Directorate and the Israeli National Security Council, submitted the findings
from his probe into the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Schalit by
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Eiland was extremely careful in the wording of his conclusions.
While there were various “operational mishaps” leading up to the kidnapping,
Eiland refrained from recommending sanctions against officers in the Gaza
The only penalty was the recording of the incident in the
personal files of several senior officers from the Southern Command, including
Col. Avi Peled, commander of the Southern Gaza Brigade.
A year later
though, Peled was appointed commander of the Golani Brigade, a clear indication
that Schalit’s kidnapping was not held against him. The commander of the Gaza
Division at the time, Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, also emerged unscathed from the
probe. He is currently awaiting a promotion in rank and an appointment within
the General Staff. In the meantime he has served as a member of Eiland’s
In contrast to Eiland’s report, the conclusions drawn
by the team that investigated the kidnapping on July 12, 2006, of reservists
Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were harsher.
Although that team’s report
did not issue personal recommendations against him, Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch
– the equivalent of Kochavi in the North – retired from active duty following
the report’s publication.
A number of senior officers in the IDF referred
to Eiland’s last probe over the past few days as a possible indication of what
can be expected in the 150-page report he is scheduled to submit to Chief of
General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday night on the IDF’s Operation Sea
Breeze 7 to stop the Gaza-bound flotilla from Turkey in late May, which ended
with nine dead Turkish nationals and unprecedented criticism of
Leaks from within the IDF indicate that, again this time, Eiland
will refrain from issuing personal recommendations against senior officers. He
will, however, criticize the IDF, which he reportedly has concluded did not
properly prepare for the flotilla and the possible repercussions.
likely why Ashkenazi chose Eiland – because he is a safe choice when it comes to
Eiland’s probe though touches on a larger issue within
current military culture regarding the readiness of IDF officers to take
responsibility for their actions. The norm, for better or for worse,
IDF in recent years has been to avoid responsibility, to issue general
in military probes and thereby let officers who should be held
Opinions within the IDF are split into two schools of thought.
One school holds that Eiland’s probe is on the operational level and
issue recommendations on a tactical level how to carry out a similar
in the future.
The other school of thought is that Eiland needs to single
out specific officers. One officer could be the commander of the Navy,
V.-Adm. Eliezer Marom.
This school of thought holds that,
following such a tactical mishap which led to extraordinary diplomatic
someone needs to pay the price. Only thus will the defense establishment
from its mistakes.