Maj. Gen. Doron Piles was named the army’s new president of the Military Court of Appeals, a position similar to the chief justice of a supreme court, in a ceremony held in the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Monday.
The ceremony was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, along with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, who awarded Piles with his new commission and new rank, promoting him from a brigadier general.
Piles has most recently presided over a portion of the contentious Hebron shooting case, in which an IDF soldier stands accused of fatally shooting a disarmed Palestinian assailant.
During the ceremony, Liberman made an apparent reference to the case, telling Piles and three lower-ranking military judges at the ceremony they had to base their decisions not on “experts” but on “justice.”
“I know it’s not easy, but sometimes — even when there’s background noise from outside and the interpretations of this or that expert — you need to know to ignore that and rule in accordance with justice,” Liberman said.
Prior to being named defense minister, Liberman came out as a supporter of the IDF soldier involved, Sgt. Elor Azaria. After taking over the position earlier this year, he promised not to interfere in the criminal proceedings.
Piles was approved for his position by a committee made up of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Liberman, Naor, Eisenkot and other legal and military representatives on July 8; his predecessor Maj. Gen. Shai Yaniv stepped down as president of the court two weeks later.
In his speech, Rivlin did not weigh in on the case, opting instead to stress the need for a strong, independent judiciary within the military.
“The State of Israel decided in its early days to see war as a necessary evil, one that does not allow us to cross every line and silence every law,” Rivlin said during the ceremony. “The [military legal] system, with its complexity and challenges, is an essential part of the structure of the Israel Defense Forces as a military that represents the sovereignty, the nation and the elected offices of the Jewish democratic, and democratic Jewish, state.”
Piles’s official appointment came as the Israeli army proposed a round of new high-ranking appointments for several infantry brigades and naval units.
Col. Yaakov “Yaki” Dolef was appointed head of the Paratroopers Brigade; Col. Dan Goldfus was given command of the Nahal Brigade; Col. David Bar-Kalifa was named head of the Givati Brigade; Col. Tzion Ratzon was named head of the Kfir Brigade; and Col. Avi Balut was appointed chief of the new Commando Brigade.
Other new appointments included a number of new base commanders, including in the navy and air force.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.