IDF commander said to suspend reservist who criticized him online 7 months ago

Reservist had slammed Col. Avinoam Emunah’s unauthorized meeting with Ben Gvir over possibility of heading National Guard; ouster decried by unit member as ‘personal vendetta’

File: Col. Avinoam Emunah during a military ceremony in 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)
File: Col. Avinoam Emunah during a military ceremony in 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

A senior IDF officer ordered a reserve soldier in his brigade suspended from duty due to criticism the serviceman voiced of him on social media seven months ago, over an unapproved meeting the commander held with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, according to a media report Sunday.

Col. Avinoam Emunah, commander of the Hermon Brigade, used his authority to take revenge on the reservist, Channel 12 news reported.

Earlier this year, Emunah met Ben Gvir, leader of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party, to check the option of being appointed head of the National Guard, which the minister was and still is planning to form.

The controversial National Guard is expected to be tasked with tackling “nationalist crime” and terrorism. Critics have slammed it as a potential private militia for Ben Gvir.

The military rebuked Emunah at the time for violating army rules by having the meeting, due to a prohibition on officers meeting with lawmakers without authorization.

The reservist at the time aired criticism of Emunah over the meeting.

Illustrative: IDF artillery stationed near the border with Lebanon, northern Israel, November 2, 2023. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

When war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, the reservist was called up to the northern front and was stationed there until last week, when Emunah ordered his direct commander to suspend him from duty immediately.

The report cited unnamed members of the unit as saying that after the reservist went home, Emunah told him to “not come back.”

“A Personal vendetta? This is what our brigade commander is doing during the war?” one of the soldiers told Channel 12.

The IDF did not immediately comment on the incident.

Israel declared war with the aim of eradicating Hamas following the terror group’s devastating October 7 onslaught, in which some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were brutally murdered in their homes and at a music festival, and over 240 more were abducted, including some 30 babies and children.

The IDF has also battled Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups that have launched daily attacks from southern Lebanon at northern Israeli communities and military positions.

Emunah previously sparked controversy after he was filmed in 2014 telling soldiers ahead of an operation near the Gaza Strip: “Most of the time you’ll see them fleeing, kill them while they’re fleeing. It is much more unpleasant tonight to be an Arab.”

In 2021, Emunah was censured by then-IDF chief Aviv Kohavi, and his planned promotion was delayed by two years, over an incident a year earlier when a soldier from the Maglan unit was seriously injured while jumping from a moving vehicle into a thorn bush. Emunah was head of Maglan in 2016, when a similar incident occurred, and did not prevent the dangerous custom from continuing.

In 2018, as head of the 474th Golan Regional Brigade, Emunah sparked controversy after he requested a male spokesperson for the unit, not a female soldier, apparently for religious reasons. The majority of soldiers in the IDF Spokesperson Unit are women, but his request was approved.

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