Commander criticized for failures takes over Golani Brigade

Col. Avi Peled was in charge of the Southern Gaza Brigade when Schalit was kidnapped.

Col. Avi Peled, commander of the Southern Gaza Brigade when Gilad Schalit was taken captive by Hamas two years ago, took up his new post as commander of the Golani Brigade on Wednesday, just a day before the Schalit family commemorates their son's 22nd birthday. On Wednesday, Schalit's friends, including his army commander, held a rally in Kibbutz Sufa by the southern border near where he was kidnapped in June 2006. On Thursday night, Schalit's family will hold an event in their hometown of Mitzpe Hila in the upper Galilee. A rally will also be held in Tel Aviv, first next to the Defense Ministry and then in Kikar Rabin. Peled has spent most of his career in the Golani Brigade and has served as commander of its elite Egoz Battalion. He is a well-respected field commander and has filled a number of complicated combat postings in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. He is replacing Col. Tamir Yidai, who will be promoted to the rank of brigadier general and become commander of Division 80, along the Egyptian-Israeli border. IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi's decision to make Peled commander of Golani last October was met by surprise in the IDF. An investigative team led by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, which had probed the Schalit kidnapping, found operational failures in Peled's conduct as commander of the Southern Gaza Brigade at the time of the cross-border attack. Then-chief of staff Dan Halutz had decided not to take measures against Peled.