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Druze general injured in 2014 war named next liaison to Palestinians

Ghassan Alian to be third Druze to hold rank of major general; Israeli Air Force chief’s tenure extended for additional year

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

Then-Col. Ghassan Alian during a patrol in July 2013 in Jenin. Col. Alian, who heads the Golani Brigade, returned to the unit after being injured in battle two days earlier (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)
Then-Col. Ghassan Alian during a patrol in July 2013 in Jenin. Col. Alian, who heads the Golani Brigade, returned to the unit after being injured in battle two days earlier (Yossi Zeliger/FLASH90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday named Brig. Gen. Ghassan Alian as the country’s next military liaison to the Palestinians, formally known as the coordinator of government activities in the territories, or COGAT.

Alian, who was injured during the 2014 Gaza war, will take over for Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, who currently serves in the role and whose tenure ends in a few months, Gantz’s office said.

The defense minister has also decided to extend the tenure of Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin by another year, the military said, “in light of his appreciation for [Norkin’s] service as air force commander and in light of the operational challenges” facing the military.

In addition, Gantz approved IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi’s appointment of Brig. Gen. Yaniv Asur to the position of commander of the IDF Manpower Directorate, according to the military. Asur will succeed Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, who has served in the role since 2017.

Israeli Air Force chief Amikam Norkin, left, looks at an F-16 fighter jet that will take part in an exercise in Germany, in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

Gantz has also decided to appoint Brig. Gen. (res.) Ofer Sarig to the role of IDF comptroller, a position he has filled in an acting capacity for the past year and a half, his office said.

Alian, who currently serves as the head of the Civil Administration within the COGAT unit, and Asur, the head of the IDF’s Operations Division, will both be promoted to the rank of major general.

Alian, the first Druze officer to command the Golani Brigade, will be the third IDF major general from the Druze community, after Abu Rukun and Yousef Mishleb, who also served as COGAT from 2003 to 2008.

“The defense minister would like to thank Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun who will finish his position as coordinator of government activities in the territories in the next few months,” Gantz’s office said.

The coordinator of government activities in the territories is responsible for both Israel’s day-to-day management of the West Bank and Gaza Strip — issuing travel permits to Palestinians and approving building plans — and working with foreign countries and international organizations on projects in the territories.

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