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      Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner to Remain in IDF

      IDF Ground Forces commander Sami Turgeman has appointed Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner deputy commander of the Tze'elim Training Base.
      By Gabe Kahn
      First Publish: 5/4/2012, 2:33 PM

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

      It was reported on Friday that IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz decided this week not to end Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner's military career.

      Eisner's career has hung in the balance since he was filmed striking a Danish ISM activist in the face with his rifle at the end of a heated two-hour confrontation on April 14.

      He was suspended pursuant to an investigation into the incident and subsequently removed from his post of deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade.

      The decision to remove Eisner from his post was unpopular with Israelis, who sympathized with both the difficult situation he was faced with and his assertion that "doing the job comes before looking good."

      Senior political and military officials had raced to pillory Eisner in the media before the investigation into the incident had been completed.

      However, following public backlash, Gantz said last week, "I'm not ready to decide his fate and end his career, but I cannot simply ignore the incident, either."

      "The IDF is a large military force and there are many events in many places and people can make mistakes. We work hard at it, but this incident is not representative of the IDF, or of Lt. Col. Eisner," he said in a softening of his previous stance.

      The Hebrew-language daily Maariv reported Eisner will retain his rank and be appointed as the deputy commander of the Tactical Training Center in Tze'elim.

      In his new position he will be responsible for training battalions of infantry and armor in battlefield simulations.

      After his removal as deputy commander of the Jordan Valley Brigade, Eisner said he was considering retiring.

      "I may retire from the army," Eisner said. "I am hurt emotionally and must consider whether to continue."

      Eisner’s future became even more uncertain when a private conversation in which he leveled sharp criticism at senior officers – which was taped by a third party – was aired on Channel 10.

      "His comments were unfortunate, irrespective of his reasons," Gantz had said.

      Nonetheless, Ground Forces commander Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman on Friday told Maariv on he had approved Eisner's appointment at the training base.

      Turgeman added that Eisner had decided to remain in military service "despite the decision that he will not be allowed to command troops in the field for two years."

      Tze'elim base commander, Brig. Gen. Avi Ashkenazi, told Maariv that Eisner expressed his “desire to contribute his experience to the IDF.”

      Senior military sources said Eisner's desire to continue serving despite being censured "demonstrated his deep commitment to making a contribution in the IDF."

      The incident happened on April 14 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 dismissal from his post – through he remains in the IDF with the same rank – 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 the activist.

      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.

      A second video released on April 20 – which critics say was also clearly edited – showed Eisner striking other activists with his rifle.