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.But despite the initial harsh criticism against Eisner from both the IDF and Israeli leaders, there has now been a change in the official response of the IDF:
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."Besides the general support of the Israeli public, the editing of the one-sided tape released by the ISM may have also played a role in re-evaluating Eisner's fate.
"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.
...[Ground Forces commander Maj. Gen. Sami] 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."
Even so, the damage has been done--both to Israel's image and to the career of Lt. Col. Shalon Eisner.
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