IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot cancelled the appointment of Brig.-Gen. Ofek Buchris to the command of the strategically vital IDF Operations Division on Thursday.
Buchris, who was due to take up the post soon, is under a Military Police investigation following allegations of multiple incidents of rape and sexual harassment by a female subordinate – allegations he has denies.
Eisenkot extended Buchris’s suspension by 30 days, and will begin a procedure for selecting a new commander of the Operations Division within the IDF Operations Branch. The Division is responsible for all military operations.
Military sources said that after consulting with the chief military prosecutor, and verifying that a lengthy legal process remained ahead of Buchris, Eisenkot decided that the investigation must be allowed to take its full course without interfering with the need to appoint a new Operations Division chief.
“These things [the investigation] takes time,” said one source. “We must reach the truth. Buchris has done much. But we must also understand what happened there, and the appointment of a new Operations Division commander cannot be delayed. This is a central role for the army,” he said.
“Buchris cannot be appointed to this position as long as he is in this situation.” In the meantime, Military Police will continue its investigation. The source stressed that Eisenkot’s decision is unrelated to the results of a recent lie detector test taken by Buchris, or to any other developments in the investigation. “We can’t leave this appointment hanging in the air. The decision is based on the [length] of the judicial process underway,” he stressed.
IDF Chief Defense Counsel, Col. Asher Halperin, who is representing Buchris, said that he understood the decision.
In a statement, Halperin said that Buchris was told by the chief of staff during a conversation about the difficulties of waiting for a new Operations Division chief.
“Brig.-Gen. Buchris is convinced that the investigation will conclude with his full innocence, so that he can soon return to his life and important military work,” Halperin added.