Protests as IDF colonel who ruled for attacks on Gaza civilians starts as TAU lecturer
Tel Aviv University professors and students protested appointment of Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch.
The first day of lectures by an Israel Defense Forces colonel who headed the department that ruled in favor of attacks on Gaza civilians were met with demonstrations at Tel Aviv University's Law School Thursday.
Protestors and counter-protestors, including a number of Knesset MKs, demonstrated outside of the classroom of Colonel Pnina Sharvit-Baruch as she prepared to teach her first classes.
Sharvit-Baruch was appointed by the Law Faculty to teach a class this semester. Both professors and students protested the move, after Haaretz reported that under Sharvit-Baruch's command, IDF legal experts legitimized strikes involving Gaza civilians, including the bombardment of the Gaza police course closing ceremony.
Right-wing students waving Israeli flags were joined outside of the classroom by Likud MKs Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotovely, were they were met by left-wing protestors.
Earlier protests against Sharvit-Baruch's appointment were led by Professor Chaim Ganz of the university's Minerva Center for Human Rights.
Ganz wrote a letter to Professor Hanoch Dagan, the dean of the law faculty, claiming that Sharvit-Baruch's interpretation of the law during Israel's Gaza offensive allowed the army to act in ways that constitute potential war crimes. Ganz also said that Sharvit-Baruch harms Israel's values system.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in early February excoriated opposition to the appointment of Sharvit-Baruch as a lecturer by saying that Israel would not support state-funded institutions that discriminate against IDF officers because of their military service.
"In my opinion, any university that disqualifies lecturers on such grounds, before an examination [of their service] has been concluded, is not suitable to receive funding from the Israeli government," Olmert said.
The outgoing prime minister dismissed the protesters who opposed Sharvit-Baruch's appointment as "a number of self-righteous, sanctimonious, arrogant hypocrites who chose to make an exception out of the military service of the IDF Advocacy General without determining if she is guilty [of crimes]."