TEL AVIV (Jul. 26)
A young Israeli army colonel was relieved of his command in Lebanon at his own request because he said his conscience and world opinion did not permit him to continue to participate in the fighting, a military spokesman disclosed today.
Col, Eli Geva, 32, described as one of Israel’s most brilliant young commanders, was sent on leave by Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan but no action was taken on his request to be allowed to resign from the army. Earlier, Eitan, Premier Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon met with the young officer in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade him to withdraw his resignation. He is a career officer in the regular army. Similar urgings by his father, Maj,Gen.(res.) Yosef Geva, a former commander of the central front, were also of no avail.
OPPOSES ASSAULT ON PLO REMNANT
Young Geva, who led the brigade that captured the Palestine Liberation Organization stronghold of Tyre and fought its way to the outskirts of Beirut, said he opposed plans for an assault on the PLO remnant in west Beirut.
He said such an operation would probably result in heavy losses to his own men and severe civilian casualties. Col. Geva said he fully supported Israel’s original military aims in Lebanon to clear the southern region of that country of PLO terrorists. He said his change of heart was brought about by the prolonged siege of west Beirut.
The army spokesman said Geva’s action has createc “severe misgivings among soldiers under his command and his fellow officers.” Senior officers and former chiefs of staff said today that while they could sympathize with the young officer’s feelings, no soldier can be allowed to decide which orders he will obey and what type of operation he will or will not take port in.
Military historians could recall only one similar case when, during Israel’s war for independence in 1948 a young general resigned his command because of disagreement with battle plan ordered by then Premier David Ben Gurion. That officer remained in the army, however, as a volunteer driver of an armored car.