IDF forces in the West Bank..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
IDF Chief West Bank Prosecutor Lt.-Col. Maurice Hirsch will be replaced in the coming months by Lt.-Col. Asem Hamed, the first Druse-Israeli to fill the job, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Hamed is also believed to be the first Druse Israeli to rise to the rank of lieutenant-colonel within the IDF legal division, though there have been higher ranked Druse Israelis in battle and in other units.
Even though the appointment is now official, no public announcement has been made or planned, at least for the coming months.
Hamed will make the move from running the Civil Claims Division in the Defense Ministry, doubtlessly as part of an attempt to improve the West Bank prosecution’s image.
Hirsch, an oleh from England, will retire after nearly 20 years in the IDF legal division, having headed the West Bank prosecution since March 2013.
During his time as chief prosecutor he presided over 58 cases of Palestinians whom the IDF sought to send back to jail in July 2014, despite their being released in the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange.
The legal action was part of a crackdown following the murder of three Jewish teenagers in June 2014. The IDF won most of the cases along with accolades from most Israeli political parties, but garnered criticism from other corners.
Hirsch also initiated a summons program in February 2014 to help Palestinian minors avoid night arrests.
The IDF has not released many public statistics about the program, first revealed by the Post, but despite being paused during times of heightened conflict, the program continues to help avoid some night arrests, even as others persist.
Along with the summons program and other reforms and dialogue with UNICEF, Hirsch also managed to negotiate one of the less critical reports filed by UNICEF in February 2015, though the report still did contain criticism.
On December 11, 2014, Hirsch secured a landmark decision in the IDF Judea and Samaria Appeals Court which handed down a NIS 50,000 fine – far higher than others previously imposed for terror financing – to 50-plus-yearold Rasmia Baluna. The ruling led to a trend of other, higher fines for terror financing.
On the flip side, Hirsch has had his critics, including defense lawyers, NGOs and some in the media, who have said he was more aggressive or ideological than his predecessors in prosecuting Palestinians and negotiating plea bargains.