IDF chief: Only commanders will decide how to handle wayward soldiers

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

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at Ben Gurion University, November 30, 2022. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi speaks at Ben Gurion University, November 30, 2022. (Emanuel Fabian/Times of Israel)

Military chief Aviv Kohavi says the Israel Defense Forces’ code of conduct will not change “with the weather,” referring to pressure from right-wing lawmakers, after a soldier was jailed for taunting an activist in the West Bank city of Hebron.

“The IDF is a highly moral army,” Kohavi says, “but there are irregular incidents.”

“I’m proud that we deal with these incidents harshly. Our moral compass is clear,” Kohavi says. “The IDF has a moral code of conduct, it doesn’t change with the weather, it’s stable.

“Only commanders in the IDF will dictate the rules, and only commanders in the IDF will decide how to handle soldiers, and only commanders in the IDF will decide how to deal with irregular incidents,” he says, referring to Itamar Ben Gvir’s calls to change the army’s rules and his criticism of the decision to jail the soldier.

Kohavi also hails the IDF’s “high level of professionalism” and says it prevented the formation of “a Hezbollah 2” in Syria that would have had thousands of missiles pointed at Israel.

The IDF “completely foiled” Iran’s attempts to establish itself in Syria, he says, while adding that “there’s still work to do.”

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