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General who crossed into Lebanon in Hezbollah tunnel to head Home Front Command

Rafi Milo to be promoted 3 years after facing reprimand for taking unauthorized tour of tunnel with troops; unit’s current chief Uri Gordin appointed to head IDF’s Northern Command

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Brigadier-General Rafi Milo in an undated photograph published by the military on May 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Brigadier-General Rafi Milo in an undated photograph published by the military on May 19, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

An Israel Defense Forces general who was reprimanded three years ago for taking troops under his command on an unauthorized tour of a Hezbollah tunnel found along the Lebanese border, has been appointed to be the next Homefront Command chief.

Brig. Gen. Rafi Milo, who currently heads the IDF Command and Staff College, had his promotion delayed after it was reported that he had taken a group of soldiers on a midnight excursion inside the tunnel, the largest uncovered by the military during Operation Northern Shield in 2019.

Milo and his soldiers followed the tunnel all the way to its origin, several kilometers inside Lebanese territory. The Ynet news report said that Milo did not have permission from his superiors to tour the tunnel and did not inform anyone in the military they were going.

After the story broke, Milo was summoned for a dressing down by IDF Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and the head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram.

Milo will be promoted to the rank of major general along with the new role in the coming months.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also approved the appointment of Maj. Gen. Uri Gordin, the current head of the Home Front Command, to be the next chief of the military’s Northern Command.

Major General Uri Gordin, chief of Israel’s Home Front Command, speaks during an interview with AFP at the command’s operational center in Ramle on October 12, 2021. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Milo has served as commander of the elite Shayetet 13 naval commando unit, the Golani Brigade’s reconnaissance unit, and the 80th Division along the Egyptian and Jordanian borders in the south.

He was appointed Galilee Division commander in 2017, where he oversaw Operation Northern Shield, in which the army uncovered at least six cross-border attack tunnels dug by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon into Israel.

According to the IDF, Hezbollah planned to use the tunnels to kidnap or kill civilians or soldiers, and to seize a slice of Israeli territory in the event of any hostilities.

The IDF reveals what it says is the longest cross-border attack tunnel dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israel, May 29, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Thursday, the IDF wrapped up the second week of a major exercise, which focused on sudden events erupting in multiple theaters at the same time, while focusing on the northern front.

The Chariots of Fire drill — scheduled to last through June 3 — is the military’s largest exercise in decades. It was postponed last May ahead of the war with terror groups in the Gaza Strip

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