Brig. Gen. Imad Fares, who was scheduled to be officially ousted from the Israel Defense Forces, gained a reprieve yesterday because the state prosecutor's office is on strike.
Prosecutors failed to appear at a hearing yesterday, where Fares' attorneys requested an injunction to delay the officer's dismissal.
Tel Aviv District Court Judge Kobi Vardi issued a temporary order keeping Fares in the army until his request is heard.
Another hearing has been scheduled for December 21.
Fares was ordered dismissed this year for falsifying an accident report involving an army car. The car had been driven by his wife, and Fares falsely claimed he had been present at the time of the accident. Army regulations prohibit spouses from driving military cars unless the officer is a passenger.
Fares petitioned the Administrative Affairs Court in Tel Aviv against IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot and other officers.
Fares sought the injunction so that he could appeal his discharge. He wants to serve until July 2011, which is when he was scheduled to be discharged before the incident arose.
"I should clarify that the temporary order does not convey a stance on the heart of the matter or the odds of accepting an appeal," the judge wrote. "The temporary order is being given solely because the respondents did not respond to the request and did not appear for the hearing today due to the strike."
"Were the [prosecutors] to appear in court and respond, the court could have ruled before the petitioner's discharge date," Judge Vardi wrote.
Fares was pleased with the decision. "We hope this is the first step toward allowing Imad Fares to resume his IDF service," said his attorney, Avi Amiram. "We are convinced the decision [to discharge him] was illegal, extreme and damages justice. It is disproportionate, and it needs to be repealed."
Fares has asked to receive the tapes and transcripts of hearings presided over by Ashkenazi.
"The minutes of the hearing have great weight," Amiram said. "The recordings will let the court peek into the military disciplinary process. The chief of staff did not hear what Imad Fares had to say, nor did he examine his arguments. Fares provided a truthful report [about his wife's accident]."
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