IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz on Thursday accepted the recommendation of IDF Southern Commander Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman to relieve from duty an infantry battalion commander embroiled in an alleged sexual harassment and cover-up scandal.
Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi, commander of the Tzabar unit in the Givati Brigade, was removed from his post.
Hajbi, who led troops during the summer conflict in the Gaza Strip, has for several weeks been the subject of an undercover Military Police investigation into a complaint by a female soldier, who said he had sexually harassed her.
Hajbi has denied the accusations vehemently, but took a leave of absence from his post when the investigation was made public last week — “so that the battalion won’t be affected by this,” he reportedly told his associates.
Hajbi’s attorney, IDF chief defense counsel Col. Asher Halperin, said last week that Hajbi insisted he was innocent and had asked for a lie-detector test and the chance to confront his accuser.
The Military Police investigation has also yielded suspicions that officers further up the chain of command tried to cover up the affair.
Hajbi’s superior, Givati Brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter, was among those questioned, but was later cleared of suspicions. Military Police investigators examined whether Winter had fulfilled his responsibility to report the complaints against his accused underling to military authorities, but eventually decided to close the case against him.
After the harassment complaint against Hajbi became public, soldiers began coming forward with other complaints. Several soldiers under Hajbi’s command have reportedly complained that the battalion commander forged documents to cover up car accidents involving military vehicles as well.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.