Israeli army promotes first openly gay major general


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces has made its top attorney the first openly gay major general.

Military Advocate General Sharon Afek was promoted during a ceremony Thursday at the country’s defense headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Afek had served in the army in legal positions for 25 years when he was appointed military advocate general in October 2015.

“The rank promotion expresses the great responsibility of the military advocate general to act, shoulder to shoulder with commanders, in order to ensure that the IDF is able to fulfill its goal and win, without giving up on the rule of law,” Afek said at the ceremony, according to an IDF statement.

“Even in the times of the most complicated and difficult fighting, the IDF was strict, is strict and will be strict in remaining within the bounds of law and justice. This dedication of the IDF to law and justice is a source of strength and not weakness. It allows us to operate as a people’s army in a democratic state and to preserve the trust of the public.”

The IDF chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, said Afek handles his job with “good sense and with courage.”

As military advocate general, Afek has dealt with several high-profile cases, among them Elor Azaria, a soldier who shot a downed Palestinian terrorist in Hebron. Azaria had an 18-month prison sentence reduced by four months and served two-thirds of the term before he was released.

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