IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot opened up for the first time regarding the Ofek Buchris saga, in which the Brigadier General was demoted to Colonel after pleading guilty to sexually harassing a subordinate.
Buchris, a decorated officer, was accused of raping a female soldier who served under him days before his scheduled promotion to head the IDF Operations Division, a position seen by many as a stepping stone to becoming IDF Chief of Staff. At first strenuously denying the charges, which he called "the fight of my life", Buchris eventually admitted to the charges in a plea bargain and was demoted to Colonel.
"I was very disappointed in him," Eizenkot told the Walla internet site. "I asked him about it, and he told me there was nothing to the story, but then other things came out."
"I have known Ofek Buchris since he was a young Second Lieutenant," Eizenkot continued. "He was a team leader in the Golani Brigade and I was the deputy brigade commander and I served with him in a long line of positions. I saw him as an outstanding, courageous and daring officer, and I appointed him to the senior position as head of the IDF's Operations Division."
"However, when I saw the letter and the investigation I understood that this was a very serious incident, and I took a series of unusual steps, such as canceling his appointment and suspending him from the IDF," Eizenkot said.
Buchris recovered from serious injuries he sustained during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 to command the elite Golani Brigade, and the IDF was shocked when he was accused of rape. Buchris eventually admitted to the charges of sexual harassment as well as having had illicit relations with a subordinate, and was demoted to Colonel.
In February, Buchris's wife Naama told Channel 2 that she forced Buchris to admit to the charges for the sake of his family, despite disbelieving their veracity, "I said to him, admit to everything so they will leave you in peace," she asserted, joining those who feel that Buchris was set up to prevent his advancement.