Georgian MP lauds IDF military training

Jewish minister tells 'Post' he's "proud as a Jew" that former IDF officers trained Georgian troops.

temur yakobashvili 224.8 (photo credit: Courtesy)
temur yakobashvili 224.8
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Georgian Integration Minister Temur Yakobashvili told The Jerusalem Post Monday he "felt proud as a Jew," thanks to the training Israelis had provided to units in the Georgian military. Yakobashvili spoke while being driven to a meeting with a Russian general who had led ground forces into Georgia. The minister described the general as being "excessively aggressive." "I'm going to ask him myself what he thinks he was doing," he said. Yakobasvili's comments confirmed reports to the Post by an Israeli defense official Sunday that a small number of Georgian elite troops had been trained by Galilee Div. commander Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, who founded the Homat Magen company. "I have to underline that this was not a government-to-government thing," said Yakobashvili. "This was between the Georgian government and a private Israeli company. They have provided highly qualified training." The effects of the training were "visible," the minister added. Asked whether he was satisfied with the Israeli government's stance on the conflict with Russia, Yakobashvili said he was not fully aware of "what the Israeli government is doing or not doing." "At this stage, I wouldn't expect much, other than to provide political support for Georgia's case," he said. "Israel probably understands our situation more than others. But I wouldn't expect more than diplomatic support." Yakobashvili said members of Georgia's Jewish community were affected by the war in the same way as the rest of the population. "The Jewish community is an integral part of Georgia. We are all part of this country," he said. Yakobashvili described the state of affairs in the region as "difficult." "We have the Russian air force bombing civilian targets, the Russian army invading [our territory], and the Russian Navy blocking our ports," he said. Still, he maintained Russia had made an "historic mistake" by choosing to invade and occupy Georgia. "Georgia will recover and regain its territory, if not tomorrow than the day after tomorrow. We have patience and determination. But what will happen with the Russian Federation? Even the Russian people should realize that they have gotten into a very deep problem," the minister said. Of international efforts to reach a cease-fire agreement, Yakobashvili said, "international mediators are trying to address this issue, but not much is being done beyond talking and naming and shaming. We will reach an agreement, but time matters," he added. "We're a small democratic European country being attacked by big autocratic Russia and democracies are doing nothing," Yakobashvili said. "I am still hopeful that there will be a timely and meaningful intervention by the US, and that we will see a different picture." Yakobashvili said he thought Russia was deliberately under-reporting its losses. "You will never hear the Russian media talk about their own casualties. We shot down 13 aircraft and not all of the pilots can be alive. They have suffered heavy casualties in human lives and damage to armored carriers and tanks, which they are hiding," he said. "The Russian media is so manipulated we were forced to shut it down in Georgia because this is part of the international warfare. The war here is on three fronts; the guns and aircraft, the media war and the diplomatic war." On a more positive note, the minister added "In Tbilisi, things are calm. There is no panic, the economy is running and life continues."