Ashkenazi term to end in 2011


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s defense minister announced that the term of IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenzai would not be extended when it expires in 2011.

The announcement by Ehud Barak is considered a slight to Ashkenazi. There are conflicting reports about whether or not he sought to extend his term to a fifth year, but Barak’s announcement reportedly caught Ashkenazi by surprise.

Also on Tuesday, an Israeli-Arab man, Rawi Sultani, 23, was sentenced by the Petach Tikvah District Court to five years and eight months in prison for giving Hezbollah information on Ashkenazi. Sultani, the son of a well-known attorney in Tira, was arrested last August. He had given Hezbollah information on Ashkenazi’s daily routine. A Lebanese Hezbollah operative reportedly had contacted Sultani in August 2008 at a multinational Arab summer camp in Morocco, where he was lecturing the Israeli-Arab participants on Hezbollah’s campaign against Israel. Other camp participants questioned by police also admitted to having contact with the operative.

Sultani told the contact that he had information on Ashkenazi, and the two stayed in touch on Facebook and by phone, according to reports. Last December, Sultani met another Hezbollah member during a meeting set up in Poland and allegedly passed on the information there.

The prison sentence comes after a plea bargain worked out with prosecutors.

Hezbollah is suspected of collecting information on Ashkenazi with a plan to kill him to avenge the assassination of Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a car bombing in Syria in 2008. Nobody claimed responsibility for that attack, which is widely attributed to Israel.

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