Controversial IDF officer to be released after being passed over for promotion again

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

Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 22, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter attends a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 22, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A controversial senior officer in the IDF, who has been without a role for nearly two years, is finally being let go from service after being passed over for promotion yet again.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Herzi Halevi told Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter that he would be released from the army after not being promoted in the latest round of appointments, the Ynet news site reports.

The move has sparked backlash among some lawmakers, mostly from the right, and activists who had hoped that Winter would finally be given a promotion.

“[Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant’s careless and irresponsible conduct — giving up an outstanding and valued officer like Ofer Winter is a direct continuation of his poor conduct and failures over the past months,” says far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on the X social media site.

Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, whose military secretary at the time was Winter, calls the move to dismiss the officer a “scandal.”

Winter came under considerable criticism in the 2014 Gaza war for comments he made at the time that framed the operation as a religious fight, for allegedly passing information to politicians without proper approval, and for his actions during the highly controversial “Black Friday” battle in Rafah.

Since the war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge, Winter’s career has stagnated, despite him previously having shown significant promise for advancement to the upper echelons of the IDF.

Winter was promoted from colonel to brigadier general in 2015 and was made chief of staff for the Central Command. In 2017, he was appointed military secretary to then-defense minister Liberman, and only in 2019 was he given command over a division. Winter served as head of the 98th Division until September 2022, and has been without a role since.

In the army’s normal trajectory for promotion, Winter would have been on track to take command of a division in 2018, but he was passed over for promotion by then-IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Winter is often held up as a shining example of the national-religious community. Right-wing activists have repeatedly called for him to be promoted in the military.

Alongside Winter, another two brigadier generals were told by Halevi that no role was found for them and they were to end their service, Ynet reports.

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