Top general steps down after IDF computer stolen from home

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The head of the Israel Defense Force’s Manpower Directorate announced he would step down from his post Wednesday, a day after a laptop containing classified information was stolen from his home in southern Israel, the army said.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot accepted the resignation of Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski “with a heavy heart,” according to a statement.

Before dawn on Tuesday, the home of Topolanski, was broken into and a number of items were stolen, including the army computer, the IDF spokesperson said.

Topolanski was called in for questioning by the military police on Wednesday and shortly afterward submitted his resignation to Eisenkot.

“Topolanski told the chief of staff that throughout his life he had been taught to take responsibility, as he has demanded from his subordinates,” the army said.

Brig. Gen. Meirav Kirshner chief of staff of the Manpower Directorate, will take over his position “until a permanent replacement is decided upon,” the army said.

“[Topolanski] is a valued, virtuous officer, a fighter pilot who devoted his entire life to the security of the State of Israel,” the IDF said in a statement.

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon lamented Topolanski’s resignation, but applauded the general for doing the right thing.

“Hagai has proven what it means to take responsibility, what it means to set a personal example, even when the personal cost is high. For that he deserves great admiration,” Ya’alon wrote on Twitter.

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After the break-in at this house in Be’er Tuvia, in southern Israel, on Tuesday, the Israel Police and the IDF’s military police launched an investigation to find the stolen computer.

Police and army have no given any indication that the computer has been recovered, and no arrests have been announced.

It was not clear what exactly was on the stolen computer, if it included top-secret information or simply contained classified army programs.

Depending on what information was present on the computer, Topolanski could face legal action.

According to the news site Ynet, Topolanski’s home was one of five in Be’er Tuvia broken into early Tuesday, with computers, cell phones and money stolen from other houses.

Details of the case were kept under a gag order until Wednesday.

To prevent leaks of classified information, the army forbids officers from leaving army laptops and computers unprotected, requiring them to be kept in a safe when taken off-base. The army metes out severe punishments to officers who allow military computers or other sensitive equipment to be stolen on their watch.

Last year, Col. Ilan Levy was summarily dismissed from his position after classified documents were stolen from his car, where he accidentally left them. The stolen documents were smuggled into the West Bank, where they were later recovered by the Shin Bet.

In October, a lieutenant colonel in the air force was suspended for two weeks after an army computer was stolen from his house.

And earlier this year, the head of Israel’s missile defense program, Yair Ramati, was dismissed from his post amid allegations that he too had improperly maintained state secrets.

A fighter pilot, Topolanski, 51, was named head of the IDF’s Manpower Directorate in September 2014.

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He had previously served as second-in-command of the Israeli Air Force and in a number of senior positions in the IAF.

It was not clear how much longer Topolanski would have remained in the army in any case, as he was passed over for what would have been his next logical position: head of the air force.

During his time as head of the Manpower Directorate, Topolanski oversaw a number of dramatic changes to the army’s human resources policies as part of a plan to streamline the army.

He was also responsible for a number of controversial measures within the army, including restructuring the unit of the IDF that determines “Jewish identity” and toughening the policies towards facial hair, which were perceived as taking power away from the military rabbinate.

Source: timesofisrael.com

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