Ashkenazi: Faris made grave blunder and is right to quit

Druze officers call on Barak not to accept resignation and not to "abandon" soldier on the field of battle.

imad faris 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of IDF)
imad faris 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of IDF)
IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday said that a general who resigned from the army Monday after lying in a car accident report had made a grave error and was right to quit. The statements came amid various calls in the public and among government officials not to accept Brig.-Gen. Imad Faris's resignation, in light of his exemplary record. "Faris is an officer who served for approximately 30 years, has abundant experience and much credit to his name and contributed greatly to the security of the state," Ashkenazi said, but stated that "Imad made a very severe blunder and he understands this. He educated commanders to behave differently. Due to the circumstances, we spoke and he took responsibility, and I think this is the correct step to take." On Tuesday a group of Druze officers sent a letter to Ashkenazi as well as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak asking them to prevent Faris from resigning and calling on them not "abandon" him on the field of battle. "As brothers in arms we were seriously hurt by the attitude of the IDF senior command," the officers wrote. Top IDF officials, relatives and friends have expressed shock and dismay at the news of Faris's resignation. Speaking to Israel Radio, Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland [res.] expressed no surprise at Faris's decision. Faris was always a top soldier with strict principles, Eiland said, and the fact that he did not try to push under the carpet even an insignificant mishap is testimony to this. Faris, one of the army's highest-ranking Druse officers, was commander of the division deployed along the border with Lebanon for the past two years. His term ended Sunday. Previously, Faris served as commander of the Givati Brigade and of Division 80, which is stationed along the Egyptian border. On July 28, Faris's wife was driving his IDF-issued car and was involved in an accident. No one was injured. When Faris informed the rental company of the accident, he wrote in the report that he had been in the car at the time. On Saturday night, after the IDF learned of the accident, Faris spoke with OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and confirmed that he had been in the car during the accident. Faris said the same thing to Eizenkot's deputy, Brig.-Gen. Alon Friedman. On Sunday, though, following the ceremony at Northern Command headquarters outside Safed in which he was replaced by Brig.-Gen. Yoel Strick, Faris approached Eizenkot and admitted to having lied to him the previous night. Faris told Eizenkot he "could not live" with the lie and asked to be dismissed from military service. Eizenkot and Ashkenazi obliged. Faris's cousin Hassin called the resignation "a sad day for Israel." His brother Salah told Army Radio that he "lived and breathed the army," and cited the lack of backing he received from his superiors as the reason for his resignation. Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and the Galilee Ayoub Kara, upon hearing the news, turned to Barak and called on him not to accept Kara's resignation. "The work of Israeli hero Imad Faris planted fear in the hearts of Hizbullah and brought quiet to the northern border. He should continue to serve and even be promoted, and the minutiae of protocol should not become the undoing of a praised and esteemed officer. "Every person makes mistakes every now and then, but we don't cut off heads for mistakes," Kara said, adding that "we must stop being a society which consumes its finest men." Faris was to have been appointed the next head of the IDF's company and battalion commanders course. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report