COL. OFER WINTER commanded the Givati Brigade during last year’s war in the Gaza Strip..
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Brig.-Gen. Ofer Winter, who has been passed over for a promotion twice, was appointed to commander of the 98th “Fire” Division by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi on Monday.
Winter, who currently serves as military secretary for Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will not be promoted in rank.
Winter studied at the Or Etzion military boarding school before enrolling in the pre-army Eli academy. He was drafted into the elite General Staff Reconnaissance Unit before serving as a team leader in the elite Maglan commando unit. He then served as a platoon commander and company commander before moving into infantry where he held a number of command positions in the Givati brigade.
Winter served as the Givati brigade commander during Operation Protective Edge. He made headlines during the 2014 war with Hamas after he distributed leaflets to Givati commanders saying the operation was a “religious war.” On the leaflets he wrote, “History has chosen us to spearhead the fighting [against] the terrorist ‘Gazan’ enemy, which abuses, blasphemes and curses the God of Israel’s [Defense] Forces.”
Winter also came under considerable criticism during the highly controversial “Black Friday” battle in Rafah on August 1, 2014, after Givati Lt. Hadar Goldin was thought to have been taken hostage through a Hamas tunnel during a ceasefire. Troops on the ground were given the order to implement the “Hannibal Protocol,” which allows them to exercise any means necessary to prevent a kidnapping. During the battle, Winter reportedly ordered tanks into civilian neighborhoods and had bulldozers tear down homes while artillery batteries, tanks and aircrafts opened fire on all vehicles leaving the area.
While Palestinian reports put the death toll close to 120 people, the IDF said the number of causalities was closer to 40, which included 12 identified terrorists. The fighting during “Black Friday” led to accusations of war crimes by the United Nations. Goldin was later determined to have been killed in action and his remains, along with another fallen soldier and two Israeli civilians, are still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Winter was appointed to head of the Central Command staff in 2015 and was passed over twice for a promotion before being appointed military secretary for then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman and now Netanyahu. His current appointment is conditional of Netanyahu’s approval.
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