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The strange case of the Israeli defense minister

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is a rare bird in the sense that he has no significant military experience, never commanded a military unit and speaks a different language from that of the military world.
Israel's new Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, head of far-right Yisrael Beitenu party, reviews an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel May 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTX2EXRI
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The wave of stabbing attacks known in some circles as the “individual infitada” resumed last week. This time, it was accompanied by a trickle of mortar fire in the Golan Heights, a consequence of the fighting between Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and the rebel forces. On Sept. 20, the Israeli air force successfully shot down a Hamas drone over Gaza. However, Israel’s most active front was an internal one: the rising tension between the country’s two security chiefs — new Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

As of now, the two parties have managed to contain the tension, making sure it does not spread or escalate into a full conflict. Mutual appreciation and common interests still overcome the soured relationship and the vast differences between them on various issues. Nevertheless, neither forgets that the epic conflagration at the start of the decade between Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak also started as a low-intensity feud before it erupted into a major conflict, the aftermath of which continues to plague the defense establishment even today.

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