Placards near army HQ depict chief of staff as cruel Persian king

Police probing incitement against Gadi Eisenkot after posters call on him to resign for ‘forfeiting’ Jewish blood, in wake of Hebron shooting

Placards in Tel Aviv depict IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot as Persian king Ahasuerus (Channel 2 news)
Placards in Tel Aviv depict IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot as Persian king Ahasuerus (Channel 2 news)

Police are investigating possible incitement against IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot after posters comparing him to cruel Persian king Ahasuerus of Purim lore were posted near Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv, Channel 2 reported Saturday.

“Eisenkot resign,” the ads read, “and take Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and Bogi [Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon] with you. Jewish blood must not be forfeited. Even Ahasuerus allowed the Jews to defend themselves. Shame on you!”

Channel 2 reported that the posters were likely put up in response to Eisenkot’s condemnation of this week’s shooting of a disarmed Palestinian assailant. The soldier who shot the incapacitated man is being investigated for murder.

Police were investigating who had printed and hung up the placards, which could be considered incitement against the IDF chief.

Knesset Member Ofer Shelah of the centrist Yesh Atid party denounced those behind the posters.

“There is a political assault that is intended to determine what [our] morals will be, and how the IDF will behave, and we must not agree to it,” he told Channel 2.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri also condemned the signs, saying Eisenkot was “an excellent chief of staff…the posters and incitement against him must be denounced utterly.”

Eisenkot has recently come under fire from right-wing activists after he said that the army’s rules of engagement do not include soldiers “emptying a full magazine into a girl holding scissors.”

The military leader made those comments in February while addressing high school students, apparently alluding to a stabbing attack carried out by scissors-wielding teen Palestinian cousins in Jerusalem in November 2015.

They were met with a hail of criticism from the right.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely accusing Eisenkot of damaging Israel’s image. “The international community very much loves to accuse Israel of using disproportionate force. At the end of the day the conduct of security forces has been exemplary,” she told Channel 2.

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu mocked the chief of staff’s comments, saying: “The chief of staff thinks he’s more moral than the sages, that IDF soldiers have superior values and regulations. He thinks soldiers should not kill everyone who tries to run them over, that they should not kill everyone who approaches citizens or IDF soldiers with scissors or a knife. Apparently [Eisenkot] thinks it’s enough to disarm them and then set them free in the next wave of prisoner releases.”

Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, a prominent member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, said that according to Jewish law, killing a person first before he kills you is “the most moral norm of behavior.”

MK Bezalel Smotrich of the right-wing Jewish Home party sent a letter to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon demanding that he discipline Eisenkot for his comments.

After several days of silence on the matter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Eisenkot, saying he had “stated the obvious and it is apparent that security forces do act” in that manner.

“All statements made [against Eisenkot] afterward were inappropriate and were due to either a lack of understanding or political assaults.”

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