An elite Israel Defense Forces infantry unit is to be commanded by a Druze officer, for only the second time in the army's history.
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The IDF Spokesman announced Thursday that Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz appointed Col. Rassan Alian as the next commander of the Golani Brigade. Alian has previously served as commander of the Mensahe regional brigade, which covers the northern West Bank (including the Jenin area).
Alian will be the second Druze officer to command a regular infantry brigade. The first was Imad Fares, who was commander of the Givati Brigade from 2001-2003.
Alian joined Golani on his enlistment into the IDF and served as commander of the brigade's reconnaissance battalion during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip (2008-09). Before that, he was the commander of the Duchifat Battalion in the Kfir infantry brigade.
The appointment of Alian is part of a round of new appointments made by Gantz also announced Thursday.
Among other new appointments are Col. Uri Gordon as the new commander of the Nahal infantry brigade. Gordon is currently leading the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade. Col. Yair Vilensky will command the 40th Armored Brigade, while Col. Yoram Knafo will head the Golan artillery brigade stationed on the Golan Heights.
Col. Sassi Akeh, also an artillery officer, will be the commander of the David's Sling formation - the brigade that operates the special operations units of the artillery corps.
There were also two major appointments in the Israel Air Force. The new commander of the Uvda air base will be Col. H., and the commander of the active defense wing Col. Y.
All appointments require the approval of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon.