Pressure mounts on 'strip club' Navy chief to resign
Military sources: Ashkenazi not planning to fire Marom, Navy commander must "reach the right conclusion on his own."
Pressure mounted on OC Navy Adm. Eli Marom to step down from his post on Thursday in the wake of revelations that he was a frequent client of a Tel Aviv strip club.
Military sources said that while IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi did not plan on firing Marom, the Navy commander would likely need to "reach the right conclusion on his own."
If Marom steps down, it will be the second premature resignation of a Navy commander in two years.
"It is difficult to see how he will remain in office," one officer said. "Marom will likely have to pay for what he did."
As Navy commander, the sources said, Marom is in charge of hundreds of female soldiers and officers. "How will he be able to give orders to female officers again?" one officer asked.
Marom, a decorated veteran Navy commander, was spotted at the strip club earlier this week. In subsequent media reports, Marom was reported to have been a frequent client of the club, located in south Tel Aviv.
In an official statement released on Tuesday, the IDF said that Marom had claimed that his visit to the club was a "one-time slip." He later apologized to Ashkenazi for his behavior and for causing harm to the IDF.
Ashkenazi appointed Marom commander of the Israel Navy in August 2007, in place of Maj.-Gen. David Ben-Bashat.
Marom had served in the past as deputy commander of the Navy and head of Naval Intelligence, and played a key role in the capture of the PLO's Karine A weapons ship in 2002.
After his predecessor Ben-Bashat was appointed commander of the Navy, Marom was sent to Singapore as the IDF's military attachÃ©, ahead of planned retirement. He was later brought back to command the Navy following Ben-Bashat's resignation in the wake of the INS Hanit fiasco during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Four sailors were killed when a Chinese-made, Iranian-upgraded, radar-guided missile hit the ship, whose missile defense system had been deactivated.
"Marom waited years for this job and should have restrained himself," another officer said Thursday. "It is difficult to see how he will be able to remain in his post."
Officers in the Navy said that, since his appointment, Marom has revolutionized the Navy and rehabilitated its tainted image, damaged by the strike on the Hanit in 2006. The Navy's role in January's Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip was the first time that the branch participated to such an extent in an Israeli conflict since the First Lebanon War in 1982, the officers said.
"The ultimate question will be whether he will be able to retain his authority and respect within the IDF," one officer said. "If not, then he will likely have to go."