After exposé on loose cannon lieutenant, IDF blocks his promotion
Lt. colonel censured for allowing officer's advancement

After exposé on loose cannon lieutenant, IDF blocks his promotion

While denying key aspects of Haaretz investigation, Northern Command chief finds Golani Brigade officer Lt. Guy Eliyahu guilty of several misdeeds

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a military exercise in the northern city of Safed on February 12, 2020.(David Cohen/Flash90)
Illustrative. Soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a military exercise in the northern city of Safed on February 12, 2020.(David Cohen/Flash90)

The head of the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command on Monday blocked the promotion of a Golani Brigade lieutenant who was the subject of an exposé last month that charged that he had a history of violating orders while his superiors looked the other way.

Following the publication of the Haaretz investigative articles about the officer — Lt. Guy Eliyahu, a team leader in the Golani Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battalion — the head of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, ordered an investigation into the allegations against him, the results of which were published Monday.

In a statement, the military denied several key aspects of the reports — principally those related to an alleged unauthorized cross-border raid into Syria last January, as well as claims that senior officers attempted to cover up Eliyahu’s misdeeds — but found that the lieutenant was still guilty of “making a number of mistakes along the way” and that the commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion, Lt. Col. Shimon Siso, should not have allowed Eliyahu to prepare for promotion at the military’s Tactical Command College.

According to the military, these mistakes included: having his soldiers stop their vehicles in an unsafe way along the highway — shortly before a number of soldiers in the unit were killed in a car accident in a similar, but different case; failing to prevent his soldiers from slashing the tires of Palestinians’ cars in Nablus shortly after that deadly car crash as an indiscriminate form of revenge; and falsifying a document that he presented to a military court.

Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, commander of the army’s Northern Corps and head of the IDF military colleges, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

However, the IDF roundly dismissed claims in a Haaretz article that Eliyahu led an unsanctioned raid into Syria, saying that the operation had in fact been cleared and approved by all the relevant commanders through the proper channels.

The military also denied a conspiracy by Eliyahu’s commanders to cover up his actions, though Baram did find several cases of officers failing to properly inform their successors, superiors and colleagues of Eliyahu’s history, “which led to his promotion in the IDF.”

“In light of the collection of incidents related to the officer and the moral failings that occurred under his command, the officer will not be promoted to the position of company commander in the IDF,” the military said.

Eliyahu will be permitted to complete his studies at the Tactical Command College and to serve in non-command posts in the military.

“In addition, the head of the Northern Command saw fit to censure [Lt. Col. Siso], who served as Golani Reconnaissance Battalion commander during the relevant period for his role, in sending the team leader to study at the Tactical Command College, without fully indicating to the current brigade commander about the [tire-slashing] incident that occurred in Nablus,” the military said.

Baram found that while Siso had investigated the Nablus tire-slashing incident, finding that Eliyahu had both failed to intervene at the time and failed to inform his commanders about it after the fact, the Golani Reconnaissance Battalion commander had decided not to take serious disciplinary action in light of the recent deaths of soldiers in the unit.

While Baram acknowledged that this was a difficult period for Eliyahu’s team, he wrote in his assessment of Siso’s decision that the junior officer’s actions nevertheless represented a “grave… moral and command failure.”

Siso then failed to inform the incoming head of the Golani Brigade of the incident, leading to Eliyahu’s advancement in the military, which Baram said should not have happened.

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