New Peace Now Director: Former IDF Officer Who Stopped a Hebron Massacre

Avi Buskila, credited for stopping a 1997 Hebron shooting as an IDF soldier, will be succeeding Yariv Oppenheimer as director of two-state solution advocacy group.

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A January 1997 cover of the New York Times depicting Netanyahu and IDF Lieutenant Avi Buskila shaking hands, after Buskila helped stop a Jewish terrorist in Hebron.
Avi Buskila, then a soldier who thwarted a Hebron shooting, gets a handshake from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a January 1997 cover photo in the New York Times. Credit: Screengrab, Avi Buskila's Facebook page

Avi Buskila, who as an IDF soldier stopped a Jewish settler in 1997 from shooting at Palestinians in a Hebron market, will soon take office as the new director of Peace Now.

Buskila, who currently heads a consultancy business, succeeds Yariv Oppenheimer, Peace Now's director for more than 13 years. 

Oppenheimer said in September that he planned to step down to pursue other challenges though he also said he wished to remain involved in the organization's operations.

Peace Now was founded in 1978 by a group of IDF reservists as a protest against the obstacle to peacemaking posed by a burgeoning settlement movement in the occupied West Bank. Peace talks at the time with Egypt nearly broke down a number of times over the settlements issue, though a treaty was reached a year later.

The organization continues to focus on monitoring and raising awarness about settlement building.

As a lieutenant in the IDF, Buskila helped to thwart an indiscriminate shooting attack by an angry soldier, which at the time won him accolades and a handshake with Benjamin Netanyahu, then serving his first term as prime minister.

But Buskila famously turned on Netanyahu in December, blasting him via a Facebook post for as he put it, seeking to "solidify one-man rule, the rule of the wealthy, dictatorial, monarchist rule' in Israel.

In his post announcing his appointment on Sunday, Buskila also wrote that "when I'm asked why I choose to take action instead of giving in, my reply is that I have no other country."

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