Peres Says Assault on Mendelblit Must Be Repudiated

President Shimon Peres met yesterday with Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit in the wake of a harassment campaign against the military advocate general that is thought to be the work of right-wing extremists. Last week, graffiti calling Mendelblit a "traitor" were painted outside his home. The military advocate general has been under fire from the right, in particular for his decision not to prosecute soldiers who, during Operation Cast Lead, forced a Palestinian boy to open a suspicious bag.

"In recent years I have unceasingly acted to defend the Israel Defense Forces and it soldiers from the international assault against it. The IDF is a moral army with high values. We examine all complaints submitted against soldiers, and out of 400 such complaints I found three cases that warranted prosecution charges," Mendelblit said during the meeting.

Responding to a reporter's question about the graffiti incident in a press briefing after the meeting, Peres said: "These actions are a disgrace and must be thoroughly repudiated. "I saw the graffiti and was shocked to the depths of my soul," the president said, adding, "We must all denounce violent dialogue and the attempts to delegitimize the IDF's judicial establishment. It is inconceivable to call a military figure 'traitor.' We are talking about that which is most central to us, the IDF, an army that in the past was victorious not only because of its weapons but also because of its [ethical code of] purity of arms] and its values. We must continue to defend our values and the values of the IDF and in so doing to preserve our advantage," Peres said.

"Everything I ever did was for the protection of the IDF, its values and its soldiers, out of a desire to strengthen it," Mendelblit said after the meeting, calling the IDF the "dearest thing" to his heart.