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IDF Lt. Col. Eisner: The Mission Comes Before Looking Good

Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner said the IDF top brass are more concerned with perceptions than success in the field
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/17/2012, 9:56 PM

Lt. Col. Eisner hits back.
Lt. Col. Eisner hits back.
Reuters

Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner said Tuesday he has "no regrets" about striking a Danish activist, saying that doing the job is more important than looking good.

"What's more important, doing the job or looking good for the camera?" Eisner asked rhetorically during an interview with Channel 10.

"We know the history of these anarchists," Eisner said. "They came with sticks and broke my hand, but no one talks about that or films it."

"It's true; some of the pictures look bad," he conceded. "I used my weapon coldly, like a stick. I didn't kill anyone, and didn't put anyone's life at risk."

"My job was to protect my soldiers and open the road, and I did just that," Eisner said. "My sense was that this [the blow] would do it."

"The protesters themselves said after the incident that they cut the rally short and decided not to block the road only because of the way I handled the situation," Eisner said.

Eisner also criticized the senior IDF commanders who publically criticized him while the IDF investigation was still underway.

"But all these stories do not interest our chief of staff [Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz] or the head of my command [GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon]," Eisner said.

"There are a few questions," he said. "I admitted that it may have been a professional mistake to use arms in front of cameras, but I told the commander of the division I do not accept it as a failure of values ​​in any way."

"There is a question of what is more important, completing the mission or a good photograph? I argue that the mission is more important, they say otherwise. It could be I am wrong and they are right ".

"If the film was of nicely pressed soldiers waving flags, does that look good? What do I do to open my road? Do I put my soldier's lives at risk? Does that sounds good?"

"Someone broke my hand," Eisner said, pressing his suit. "Did anyone [on the general staff] understand the implications of breaking the hand of a Colonel in the IDF [without consequences]? No one."

The incident happened on Saturday when a group of foreign and Arab cyclists sought to block a main road near Jericho to protest Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria.

Critics of Eisner's suspension were quick to note the video of the incident uploaded to the internet was clearly edited in such a way as to cast Eisner in the worst possible light.

The altercation came at the end of nearly two hours of heated confrontation between protesters and soldiers, but the video began with Eisner striking Ias.

Eisner subsequently told military investigators that two of his fingers had been broken in an attack by the Danish campaigner before he retaliated with his weapon.

A medical examination confirmed at least one of Eisner's fingers was indeed broken during the demonstration.

He remains suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident

However, a senior military source told Arutz Sheva that while Eisner's remarks were those of a man angry and defending himself, it was going to be difficult for him to continue in the IDF after his remarks.