“Grave… moral and command failure.”

An Israeli lieutenant in the famed Golani Brigade Reconnaissance Battalion has had his promotion blocked by the commander of the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command. This lieutenant was the subject of a scathing exposé last month by the Israeli news service Haaretz that portrayed him as a “loose cannon” that had a penchant for violating orders and doing things his own way while his superiors covered up for him. 

Maj. Gen. Amir Baram, the head of the Northern Command, ordered an investigation into the actions of Lt. Guy Eliyahu, a team leader in the Golani Brigade’s Reconnaissance Battalion, following the Haaretz articles. The results of the investigation were released on Monday.

Along with the lieutenant’s blocked promotion, the IDF still claimed that the lieutenant made “a number of mistakes along the way” and that his battalion commander, LTC Shimon Siso, should not have allowed LT Eliyahu to prepare for promotion at the military’s Tactical Command College. However, the report denied several of the key parts of the exposé including:

  • That Eliyahu conducted an unauthorized cross-border raid into Syria last January
  • Senior Officers in the Golani Brigade attempted to cover up Eliyahu’s illegal actions

According to Haaretz’s article, Eliyahu’s unit got into a firefight inside of Syria in the predawn hours of January 24, 2019. Citing an unidentified source, the article claimed that the IDF soldiers were conducting a patrol along the Syrian frontier when “they decided that they wanted to go to a house on the other side of the border.” 

Eliyahu then, reportedly, entered Syrian territory without seeking or receiving approval from higher headquarters: this is illegal in the IDF. The source did not specify why the lieutenant and his unit decided to cross the border and what the exact purpose of the supposed maneuver was. 

After entering the Syrian border town of Jubata al-Khashab, Eliyahu then reportedly knocked on the door of a house and called out in Arabic for those inside to open the door. The people inside the house were not terrorists but civilians, according to the Haaretz report. Fearing that the men knocking on the door were Iranian proxy militia members, the civilians opened fire in a case of mistaken identity.

At that point, Eliyahu’s troops returned fire. Later, Syrian media reported that one civilian was killed and five more wounded in the exchange. It was only then, according to the exposé, that Eliyahu’s men rushed back into Israeli territory. Once they were back in Israeli territory, Eliyahu reported to his commanders what had happened. The news report claimed that two or three Syrians were killed. No Israeli troops were wounded in the exchange.