IDF general resigns ahead of TV report on sexual relations with subordinates
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IDF general resigns ahead of TV report on sexual relations with subordinates

Ex-soldiers of Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz allege he harassed them while commanding elite naval commando unit; IDF chief vows ‘zero tolerance’ for such behavior

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

Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, the outgoing head of IDF naval operations, who resigned in October 2019 amid allegations of past illicit sexual liaisons with subordinates.
Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, the outgoing head of IDF naval operations, who resigned in October 2019 amid allegations of past illicit sexual liaisons with subordinates.

A senior officer resigned from his position as the head of operations for the Israeli Navy on Wednesday ahead of a forthcoming television report alleging he had multiple improper sexual relationships with subordinates, the army said.

The report on Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz’s alleged sexual harassment was scheduled to air on Israel’s Channel 12 news on Friday evening.

Ahead of its release, Elbaz sent a letter to IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and the head of the Israel Navy Maj. Gen. Eli Sharvit requesting to leave his position immediately.

“Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz asked to end his position and resign from the IDF over publication of events that allegedly occurred more than 10 years ago and which included behavior that does not match the accepted norms of the IDF,” the military said in a statement.

Kohavi and Sharvit accepted his request.

From left, Israel Navy commander Eli Sharvit, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi and outgoing head of IDF naval operations Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, who resigned in October 2019 amid allegations of past illicit sexual liaisons with subordinates, salute during a ceremony in Haifa on July 30, 2019. (Israel Defense Forces)

“Brig. Gen. Elbaz is a high-ranking officer who has served in a variety of combat positions and contributed directly to the security of the State of Israel. The chief of staff determined that there is no place for these norms [he displayed] in the IDF and that he will show zero tolerance toward these types of incidents in the future,” the IDF said.

Elbaz has served as the head of naval operations since May 2018. He previously served as the head of the navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit.

His alleged illicit sexual harassment occurred while commander of Shayetet 13.

According to Channel 12, multiple women came forward and claimed that he maintained improper sexual relationships with them.

The allegations against Elbaz came two years after Ofek Buchris, formerly a brigadier general, pleaded guilty to three counts of maintaining prohibited sexual relationships as part of a deal in exchange for having far more serious charges dropped.

Ofek Buchris, the former military brigadier general accused of rape and other sexual crimes against subordinates, seen at the Jaffa military court on September 29, 2016. (Flash90)

Buchris, a former head of the Golani infantry brigade who was seen as a rising star in the IDF, had been accused of rape and sexual assault by two female officers who served under him.

He denied the accusations at first, but later took public responsibility for unspecified sexual offenses and an illegal sexual relationship as part of the plea deal. The prosecution also agreed not to seek jail time as part of the bargain.

The allegations against Buchris surfaced in March 2016, shocking the army brass, where he had been seen as a model officer. Buchris resigned from the IDF in July 2016.

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