IDF Reserve Officer to Sue Ch. 10 for Associating Him With Gunrunning

Gal Hirsch sues over investigative report which implied he sold guns, provided training in Africa, Colombia.

Brigadier General (res.) Gal Hirsch intends to file a NIS 2.5 million libel suit against Channel 10 television today for a number of allegedly erroneous reports concerning him.

Hirsch claims that Oshrat Kotler's investigative report "Lords of War," broadcast in April, and the promotional clips implied that he was a gunrunner. The program previews, which dealt with Israeli gunrunners, ran Hirsch's pictures on the screen while a voice-over stated that Hirsch had opened a security consulting company immediately after his release from the IDF. While the program said Hirsch was not a gunrunner, the next item was about gunrunners - former IDF officers - who are after "fast money."

More problematic are promotional clips showing Hirsch's picture just before footage of a humanitarian disaster and genocide in Africa. The accompanying voice-over talks about the frivolity of Israeli gunrunners who are tempted to make easy money even if this endangers national security.

"They made him out to be a gunrunner while he never traded, to increase ratings and bring an audience," an associate of Hirsch said yesterday.

"Nobody spoke to him or asked him to comment, and he did not know it was going to be broadcast," he added.

Another item to appear in the suit is Channel 10's military correspondent Or Heller's report about the hostage release operation in Colombia. The report dealt with Israeli officers and defense figures' involvement in planning the operation and training the Colombian forces. Hirsch's photograph was screened as Heller spoke of his extensive role in training the forces. Hirsch's associates say this is "completely groundless," as he was not involved in the operation at all.

Hirsch was unavailable for comment yesterday. Channel 10 News said it would comment after receiving the charges.