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IDF Chief of Staff Removes Eisner from Command for Two Years

IDF Chief of Staff Gantz removes Lt. Col. Eisner from command position after an edited video showed him using force to restrain a protester.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 4/18/2012, 12:44 PM

Lt. Col. Eisner
Lt. Col. Eisner
Israel news photo: Flash 90

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has decided to remove Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner from his comman position following the media storm over an edited video showing him using force to restrain a protester.

Lt. Col. Eisner will not be allowed to perform any duties as a commander for two years. Military sources told Arutz Sheva that Lt. Gen. Gantz made his decision after consulting with the Central Command and the Ground Forces commander.

The IDF did not eject him from the armed forces, and his rank was not changed.

Lt. Col. Eisner was the commander of the Jordan Valley Battalion and was caught on film by International Solidarity Movement activists, who blocked the only highway linking the southern and northern communities near Israel’s border.

He shoved his rifle butt in the face of a Danish activist who had broken Eisner's finger while the activist was beating him with a stick during a two-hour confrontation, which the ISM video did not show.

Lt. Gen. Gantz’s decision was a foregone conclusion given the unprecedented media outrage over the incident, which quickly erupted into a broadside even before a thorough investigation had begun.

In reporting the decision to remove Lt. Col. Eisner from his position, Israel Broadcasting Authority’s Defense Analyst Carmela Menashe determined that it was impossible to keep him in his position because, in her words, he acted in direct opposition to his orders not to use unnecessary violence against activists. “He lost his cool,” she told listeners.

Voice of Israel government radio also brought in its legal commentator to speculate that criminal charges might be filed against Lt. Col. Eisner.

Soldiers, from privates to reserve officers, were incensed at the media campaign and questioned whether the same outrage would have been expressed had the officer involved not been religious.

National religious commentators noted that extreme police violence against protesters from their community  and against women and children in middle-of-the-night expulsions almost never has been met with media outrage.

Ironically, police in Denmark, home of the activist involved in the incident, were shown in a YouTube video as beating and pepper-spraying unarmed protesters, using violence that usually is seen in Iran, Egypt and other Muslim countries.