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Compromise Reached Between General and ‘Orange’ Soldier

A former IDF General will pay 31,500 shekels to an anti-Disengagement soldier for leaking private information about him.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/5/2009, 1:49 PM / Last Update: 2/5/2009, 3:19 PM

A former IDF General will pay 31,500 shekels to an anti-Disengagement soldier for leaking private information about him.

The general is Elazer Stern, former Commander of the IDF Personnel Corps, and he has agreed to pay 31,500 shekels to Chananel Dayan, a soldier who received the Presidential Prize in May 2006 for outstanding military service.  Dayan became famous at the time when he refused to shake hands with then-Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz during the award ceremony, because of the army’s active role in the expulsion from Gush Katif and northern Shomron.

The soldier had sued Gen. Stern for leaking private information about him to a reporter, and has now agreed to withdraw the suit in return for the financial compensation.

Story Begins at Independence Day Award Ceremony
The story began on Independence Day 2006 at the President's House. Sgt. Dayan lined up with other outstanding soldiers to receive the award and shake the hands of President Katzav, Chief of Staff Halutz, and others, but when he neared Halutz, he saluted and explained that he could not shake his hand.

"When I see you,” he said, “I see the bulldozers destroying my grandparents' home in Gush Katif, and I cannot shake your hand."

Katzav and Halutz were both taken aback at the soldier's words, but the situation became explosive when Gen. Stern arrived on the scene. Stern, a yarmulke-sporting man of the religious-Zionist camp, berated Dayan and demanded that he apologize - which he did not do. Shortly afterwards, Chananel was demoted from his status of fighter and removed from his brigade. He was informed that the demotion was a result of his "choosing to express a personal protest on a political background, harming military discipline and the value of mission.”

Rabbi Yosef Dayan, Chananel's stepfather who raised him from the age of 2, later said, "Stern had the gall to tell Army Radio that if the media hadn't made such a big issue, the army would have been able to tolerate what happened and let it go. But it was he himself who made the big hullabaloo! If he hadn't started yelling at Chananel, no one would have ever known anything about it!"

"After the incident,” Rabbi Dayan said, “Chananel was told that he had to be in Tel Aviv at 6 AM the next morning. He met there with Stern, who looks at him and says, 'So you're happy now, eh? Everyone is so proud of you, and now you're their hero, eh?' etc., etc. How was my son supposed to react? He's standing there, a young sergeant facing a top general - an impossible situation. So he remained silent… Later, Stern said the worst thing of all: 'It's all because of your sick rabbis and the sick education they gave you.'"

More to Come
Despite the above, the Dayan family apparently did not even realize how resentful of Stern they had a right to be – until they later found out that Stern had actually leaked classified military information about Chananel to a Haaretz columnist, who used the information to malign the young soldier.

Columnist Yair Lapid wrote an article very critical and insulting of Sgt. Dayan, mocking him and his nationalist political views.  Rabbi Dayan sued Lapid and demanded that he reveal his sources of information - and in the course of the trial, he was astonished to find among the documents presented by Lapid’s lawyer several military documents. 

After further investigation, Rabbi Dayan realized that Gen. Stern had made sure to send his friend Lapid some of the correspondence he had sent the President’s Residence in which he asked that the award be rescinded.  The Dayans promptly filed a suit against Stern for violating the privacy to which every soldier is legally entitled.

The State, representing Stern, offered to compensate Dayan with the sum of 5,000 shekels – while the soldier had asked for ten times that amount.  After a period of negotiations, the compromise sum of 31,500 shekels was agreed upon.

Conclusions
“The very fact that the State initiated a compromise proceeding,” says Chananel, “proves like 1,000 witnesses that Gen. Stern in fact leaked forbidden information to Yair Lapid in order to smear both me and the entire nationalist camp.”

“The crime of leaking documents pales, however, in comparison with his great crime of actively participating in the expulsion from Gush Katif,” Chananel adds, “and we see its sorry results today…  I hope this will be a warning sign against all other officials who overstep their boundaries and authority in order to malign the nationalist camp.”