(photo credit: CHANNEL 2)
IDf Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz dismissed on Thursday the commander of a Givati Brigade battalion who is under a Military Police investigation for sexual harassment of women 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 army said in a statement.
Gantz made the decision on the recommendation of Southern Command head Maj.-Gen. Sami Turgerman.
Speaking to Israel Air Force cadets on Thursday who had successfully completed their fighter pilot training course, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said: “The IDF is a moral military that acts according to norms and ethics without compromise. When unusual 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 – low 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.
“He would never do such things in his life. There is no way,” Shmuel Hajbi, the officer’s father, told Channel 2 last week. “I raised kids that are the salt of the earth and this is someone who gave 18 years of his life. He should be thanked.”
His father added that Hajbi has been the victim of a vicious campaign to demonize him.
On Wednesday, Hajbi was quoted by media as telling those close to him that he has never sexually harassed a female soldier.
“Everyone will discover the truth,” he said.
Last Wednesday, Hajbi took a leave of absence after coming under investigation. The battalion commander is also suspected of disrupting the course of the investigation, which has also involved other officers in the Givati infantry brigade.
Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter was questioned last Thursday under caution in relation to the investigation, which is ongoing.