Ex-army Battalion Commander to Retire Over Sex Misconduct

Givati Brigade’s Lt. Col. Liran Hajibi pleads guilty to improper acts, ‘some of which were of a sexual nature,’ against two female soldiers under his command.

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Lt. Col. Liran Hajibi, left.
Lt. Col. Liran Hajibi, left. Credit: IDF Spokesman

The military prosecution has reached a plea bargain with Lt. Col. Liran Hajibi, commander of the Givati Brigade’s Tzabar Battallion, by which he will be convicted of inappropriate behavior and retire from the Israel Defense Forces after 18 years of service.

Under the agreement, the indictment will be for five instances of inappropriate behavior. Hajibi will be charged with acts that “exceeded the relationship between a commander and a subordinate, some of which were of a sexual nature” toward a female soldier and a female non-commissioned officer who served under his command.

The military prosecution asked for Hajibi to be demoted due to the seriousness of the accusations. His defense attorneys object to this, and the two sides will petition a special IDF tribunal that will decide whether to impose harsher penalties on the officer.

Military Police investigators questioned Hajibi in December regarding accusations of indecent acts, sexual harassment and disruption of legal proceedings. He was also confronted with the female soldier who complained against him. She recounted how he sexually harassed her, including making comments of a sexual nature about her appearance. Hajibi was also questioned regarding ethical issues such as the handling of donations.

The suspicions were first publicized by Israel Radio military correspondent Carmela Menashe, whose investigation led to the opening of legal proceedings. Then-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz later accepted the recommendation of the head of the IDF’s Southern Command and dismissed Hajibi from his post.

Hajibi’s attorneys, chief military defense counsel Col. Asher Halperin and Capt. Yigal Balfour, said, “The investigation centered on different aspects of his conduct as the commander of the Tzabar Battalion. The investigation was thorough and comprehensive, and left no stone unturned. At its conclusion, it was found that beyond the inappropriate conduct for which Lt. Col. Hajibi is meeting justice, the other accusations are baseless.”

The defense attorneys also said, “It is unnecessary to note that leaving a place that has been his home for 18 years is a heavy price to pay for Lt. Col. Hajibi.”

Late last year the military advocate general closed a case that had been opened against Hajibi’s superior, Givati commander Col. Ofer Winter, regarding several incidents that allegedly took place in his brigade’s 432nd Tzabar battalion.

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