Israeli Army Punishes Commander of Galilee Military Division
Israeli Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has punished Brig. Gen. Rafi Milo, commander of the 91st Galilee Division, by delaying his promotion.
Friday’s decision was taken after Milo took soldiers on an unauthorized tour through one of the Hezbollah tunnels discovered by Israel along its border with Lebanon.
Milo needlessly endangered the lives of his subordinates, who could have been hit by a mine explosion or by Hezbollah fire, and risked sparking an international incident along the tense northern border, Ynet news quoted Kochavi as saying.
It reported that Milo had taken a group of soldiers on a midnight excursion inside the largest tunnel uncovered by Israel during Operation Northern Shield earlier this year without prior coordination with the army.
He and his soldiers followed the tunnel all the way to its origin, several kilometers inside Lebanese territory.
The report said that Milo did not have permission from his superiors to tour the tunnel, and didn’t tell anyone in the army they were going, in violation of regulations and instructions.
The tunnel is located in the western sector of the border. It was discovered by the Israeli army in January, and two months later the barrier was breached into the Lebanese side by an engineering unit.
Milo was summoned for a dressing down by Kochavi and the head of the army’s Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Amir Baram.
Milo took full responsibility for the incident but defended his decision to check out the tunnel.
“I made an error in judgment,” he reportedly told Kochavi and Baram. “But I’m a combat commander, and there’s no way that I wasn’t going in to see the entire tunnel.”
Kochavi was “enraged” by Milo’s field trip, considering it an “extremely irresponsible thing to do” but also a clear violation of military security protocols.
Kochavi favored a harsher punishment, but Baram intervened on Milo’s behalf and convinced the army chief to go easy on him due to his outstanding military record.
Milo will be denied his expected promotion to the rank of major general until 2022.