Israeli Ex-commando Chief Resigns Amid Complaints of Sexual Harassment

Female soldiers who served under Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz have testified he had improper relations with them

Yaniv Kubovich
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz (R), Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Israel Navy Commander Eli Sharvit.
Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz (R), Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Israel Navy Commander Eli Sharvit. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Yaniv Kubovich

Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, a senior Israel Navy officer and former commander of elite unit Shayetet 13, announced Wednesday his resignation from the Israel Defense Forces after female soldiers who had served under him in the past said he had improper relations with them.

The testimonies were gathered as part of an investigation conducted by Channel 12's 'Ulpan Shisi' program, which will be aired on the weekend.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that Elbaz asked to leave the army, “due to the publication of events that allegedly took place over a decade ago, in which there was conduct that is not in keeping with accepted IDF norms.” Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi and Israel Navy Commander Eli Sharvit reportedly acceded to his request.

“Brig. Gen. Elbaz is a highly regarded officer who has served in a variety of combat roles and has contributed directly to the security of the State of Israel,” the army said in a statement.

“The chief of staff has determined that there is no place for such norms in the IDF and that he will demonstrate zero tolerance for such incidents in the future,” the statement added.

In 2017 Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris, an IDF officer who was convicted of of prohibited consensual sexual intercourse with a female soldier A., and of unbecoming conduct toward a female officer, L., both of whom served under him.

In a plea bargain, he was demoted to the rank of colonel and received a nine-month suspended sentence for three years.

In July 2015 Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi was convicted in a plea bargain of five counts of improper behavior, some of them of a sexual nature. He later resigned from the IDF. The plaintiff, who was a soldier under his command, filed a civil suit against him - and he was ordered to pay 140,000 shekels in compensation ($40,000).

In July 2017 the commander of the mix-gender Caracal combat unit, Lt. Col. Elad Cohen, was ousted for having a romantic relationship with a female officer under his command.