Top generals, reservists stand behind demoted former Gaza commander Tamir
Moshe "Chico" Tamir was convicted for permitting his 14-year-old son to drive a military dune buggy, attempting to cover-up accident.
By YAAKOV KATZ
Dozens of reservists and a number of former IDF generals sent a petition on Friday to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in support of former Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Moshe "Chico" Tamir, who was demoted last week by a military court to the rank of colonel.
Tamir was convicted as part of a plea bargain he reached with military prosecutors for permitting his 14-year-old son to drive a military dune buggy during a social meeting of division officers and their families. The boy crashed into a civilian vehicle and caused damage to the car. Tamir then attempted to keep the case silent and even claimed to have been the driver involved in the accident and not his son.
In their ruling handed down on Thursday, the panel of judges criticized Tamir's behavior which they said undermined the basic military values of credibility and honesty.
In the petition sent to Barak and Ashkenazi, the reservists wrote that they expect to see Tamir continue leading them in battle. Over the weekend, Tamir received a flood of phone calls from colleagues and subordinates. Ashkenazi and Barak also called and expressed their astonishment with the punishment.
"At the moment of truth, when our lives are on the line, we expect to find Chico there as our commander," the letter read. "We are willing to put our lives, as well as the lives of our soldiers, in his hands."
In another letter sent by a group of former generals - Giora Eiland, Moshe Kaplinsky, Eyal Ben-Reuven and David Ben-Bashat - the punishment Tamir received is described as disproportional and an embarrassment to the IDF.
IDF officers predicted that if Tamir's expected appeal was rejected he would retire from military service.
Meanwhile Friday, the Judge Advocate- General's office decided to appoint an outside investigator from the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Unit to the team that is probing the conduct of the Military Police throughout the Tamir probe.
The court harshly criticized the conduct of the Military Police, saying that it worked to diminish the severity of the case and treat it like a standard car accident when it included additional criminal elements.
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