After serving for 20 years in a variety of positions in the military courts, Brig.-Gen. Avi Levi was sworn in as a judge on the Military Court of Appeals in a ceremony at Beit Hanassi on Wednesday.
Also sworn in as judges were Maj. Ahsan Halabi and Maj. Maya Goldschmidt, who were appointed to the First District Court. Both have considerable and varied experience in the military courts.
Levi was court president during the recent trial of Brig.-Gen. Moshe Tamir, who had permitted his underage son to drive an IDF vehicle and attempted to cover up his subsequent accident.
Contrary to his colleagues, Levi was against demoting Tamir, and wrote in his minority opinion that rather than be demoted, Tamir should have his promotion deferred.
President Shimon Peres, who signed the documents affirming the three appointments, said he was very pleased the trio included both a woman and a member of the Druse community.
Brig.-Gen. Hasson Hasson, the president's military aide, is from the same Druse community as Halabi.
The IDF was currently being subjected to more criticism than ever before, said Peres.
"Sometimes it is justified and sometimes it is exaggerated," he added.
He expressed concern that some of the charges leveled at the IDF were blown out of all proportion even before they were investigated.
"The peripheral becomes central, and suppositions become fact," he said.
While not evading the reality that not everyone in the IDF lives up to IDF ideals, Peres declared the IDF to be a quality, law-abiding army with a strong sense of morality. The military legal system was obligated to uphold those moral values and to engage in strict self-examination to ensure that those values remain steadfast, he said..
Speaking of the difficulties facing military judges trying cases involving terrorism, Peres said, "Terror is a violation of justice, contempt for the law and scorn for the courts. Terrorists exclude themselves from all norms and from all laws."
Speaking in similar vein, Maj.-Gen. Shai Yaniv, the president of the Military Court of Appeals, said military judges, most of whom are young, bore an especially heavy responsibility.
"Their judgment is critical not only in terms of their military careers, but beyond," he said.
Yaniv became a judge at age 28, the youngest judge ever appointed in Israel.
The strength of the IDF was in its professionalism, justice, morality and respect for the dignity of man, he said.