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Ariel Mayor: IDF Commanders Lack Courage

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman slammed IDF chief Benny Gantz charging he lacked the courage to deal with foreign anarchists
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 4/18/2012, 5:17 PM

Ron Nachman
Ron Nachman
Flash 90

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman on Wednesday sent a scathing letter to IDF chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Central Command chief Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon protesting the dismissal of Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner from his post as commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade.

"I, sir, protest the decision to dismiss the deputy commander which indicates that the IDF and Defense Minister's aim was to stop criticism.

"The decision did not address that Palestinians and foreign citizens came to provoke us in Israeli territory and Judea and Samaria. It is one sided and shows you do not have the courage to deal the anarchists.

"Following the many demonstrations I have witnessed over the years staged by these left-wing organizations, who you know well, I turned to the Attorney General to stop the provocations and acts of incitement.

"The response of the Attorney General was that this is the responsibility of the IDF, and in our case, the Jordan Valley Brigade.

"Therefore," Nachman wrote. "I tell you, Mr. Chief of Staff, you are creating a double standard against the officer who wishes to protect the lives of local residents while sending the worst message possible to the soldiers in the Army.

"I tell you that in our next war IDF morale will suffer from poor policy decisions and this unwarranted dismissal of the commander," he warned.

Eisner was suspended after a video emerged showing him striking Danish ISM activist Andreas Ias in the face with an M16 rifle as he tried to end a tense demonstration.

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.

Later photos showed him with his hand bandaged and a medical examination confirmed he had at least one broken finger.

On Tuesday, responded to heavy criticism from Israel's political and military elite that began before the IDF investigation of the incident was complete, Eisner said he has "no regrets."

"What's more important, doing the job or looking good for the camera?" Eisner asked rhetorically.

"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."

Observers say Eisner's decision to defend himself by publicly criticizing senior officers effectively ensured he would be dismissed from his post. He has since said he is considering resigning from the IDF.