The IDF has a central ethic of never abandoning a soldier in the field, however badly he is wounded. But on Saturday in Hebron, the moral equivalent of such an abandonment occurred. It all started when 2 terrorists attacked and stabbed a soldier. Other soldiers shot at the terrorists, wounding them, and were then waiting for a military ambulance to evacuate both the wounded soldier and the terrorists when another soldier shot one of the apparently incapacitated terrorists and killed him.
The anti-Israel NGO B’tselem (which advocates for human rights for all except Israelis) were on the scene filming the entire incident, and they immediately broadcast the video worldwide. (You can view the video at the link). There was no waiting for the military censor to clear any sensitive information.
In the video, which was first released on Palestinian social media, the disarmed Palestinian can be seen lying on the ground and barely moving.
The soldier then appears to speak with another soldier, before cocking his weapon and firing at the unarmed Palestinian assailant from a few meters away, hitting him in the head.
The Palestinian was one of two who attacked and moderately wounded an IDF soldier near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, a tiny enclave of Jewish homes in the predominantly Palestinian city of Hebron.
An unnamed witness told the Palestinian Ma’an news he saw that the soldier walked up and “opened fire at him from zero range.” The witness also indicated the assailant may have still been alive before being shot.
The reaction of the military and political upper echelons was immediate and furious. Perhaps too immediate and too furious. Condemnations were issued from all directions, including from the Defence Minister and Prime Minister himself, and the soldier was summarily arrested.
Now I am not saying that the soldier was right in his actions. But I am also not saying he was wrong. The crucial aspect to keep in mind is that no one who was not present actually knows what was happening right there on the ground and what was going through the soldier’s mind at the time of the shooting. Did he really think there was an immediate danger? Or was he just a trigger-happy blood-thirsty murderer? Or just a young man under extreme pressure in a terrifying situation?
Why is the soldier not being given the benefit of the doubt? How come his family received death threats when his name has not officially been made public? Why was he condemned before even an initial investigation by the IDF and before even being indicted let alone put on trial?
This is all the equivalent of abandoning a soldier in the field and is severely affecting the motivation of some IDF soldiers.
Since the incident occurred and riveted the Israeli public, much more information has become available which sheds a whole new light on the events.
Crucially, the B’tselem video does not broadcast clearly (or at all) the voice of the soldier warning that the terrorist might be wearing a suicide bomb vest. This omission (deliberate or accidental?) thus prevented the public from understanding the soldier’s motive in shooting the terrorist. Now a new video has emerged with the full sound attached, and one can hear the soldier’s clear shouted warning about the terrorist’s possibly wearing a suicide vest:
In a newly public video that documents the scene of a controversial shooting of a Palestinian terrorist in Hebron, an Israeli can be heard warning that the Palestinian may be wearing an explosive vest.
Army Radio published the video on its website and Twitter feed on Friday, the day after the shooting. It shows paramedics carrying the soldier wounded by two Palestinian assailants when someone out of the camera frame, which the army purposely blurred, says, “He apparently has an explosive on him, pay attention! Nobody touches him until bomb disposal arrives.”
Four seconds later, one of the paramedics carrying the soldier — a man who 20 seconds earlier had said, “That terrorist is still alive, the dog. Don’t let him get up!” — cries in a panic, “He’s alive! Somebody do something!”
The video then abruptly ends.
Watch the video here. Soundtrack is in Hebrew only:
Meanwhile the damage to Israel’s and the IDF’s reputation has been done, as was B’tselem’s intention all along.
First of all, both the Prime Minister and even the Defence Minister should have kept their mouths shut. The incident was none of their business, at least not for public consumption. It is a matter for the IDF to deal with, and it’s not as if the IDF is incapable of policing itself. The IDF’s Judge Advocate is a very efficient and fair office which is well-known for its solid judgements. There was no need for the political echelon to get involved and cause further embarrassment to Israel.
But they did, because there is hardly one Israeli politician who can resist the opportunity to get behind a microphone and spout his wisdom to all and sundry, causing untold damage in the process.
So of course the UN had to get involved – yes, that bastion of human rights – and they condemned the “gruesome” killing of the terrorist. Now it may not have been a pretty sight, I give them that, but the terrorist was an attempted murderer after all, and not exactly a saint. I am still waiting for the UN to condemn any of the really gruesome killings of innocent Israeli civilians in recent months.
Dr. Haim Shine in Israel Hayom correctly calls for due process for our soldiers, as he condemns those who rush to condemn the IDF and Israel:
Despite the severity of the alleged act, I cannot understand the celebratory outburst from the Left, the fiery condemnations or the vindictiveness. The haters of Israel all over the world are licking their chops as they quote our Leftist mouthpieces. The impression one is liable to get from the Left’s Pavlovian reaction is that one IDF soldier, who shot a neutralized terrorist in a moment of errant judgment perhaps, completely outweighs the terrorist attack in Brussels, which claimed the lives of 30 innocent civilians.
The State of Israel is in the midst of an Islamist terrorist onslaught. There is no difference between the stabbings, car rammings and shootings in the streets of Israel and the ISIS bombings in European airports and metro stations. The shared motif is “Allahu akbar.” In the name of the sword of Islam and holy jihad, it is permissible and desirable to murder infidels, crusaders and anyone else unwilling to submit to Shariah law.
Israel, which finds itself on the front lines of the war on terror, is waging its campaign according to behavioral norms that are not practiced by the rest of the world. The Russians and Americans do not abide by such behavioral norms. The IDF makes supreme efforts to avoid dragging the broad Arab population in Judea and Samaria into the fray. Every military act, including but not restricted to pre-emptive strikes, home demolitions or expelling terrorists is exposed to legal criticism. There is no such precedent the world over.
A backlash by Israelis against this trial-by-media-without-jury of the soldier has begun, leading the IDF to reassure the soldier’s family that their son will receive a fair trial – which of course no one was in any doubt. It’s just that it is hard to count on the neutrality of the judges when so much detail, and so many falsehoods, have already been published.
This concern led the soldier’s mother to give a “gentle reminder” to Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon that he too gave a “kill shot” to a terrorist – during the operation to assassinate Abu Jihad in Tunisia in the 1980s:
I am the mother who gave the state her son and the establishment used him, renounced him and split him apart through its spokespeople. I am the one who is left behind, who needs to defend her family which is torn by the situation that was forced on it, who needs to deal with the questions of the children, the crying, the anger over the fate of their brother.
Bring the child back to us, bring our lives back to us. Remember and don’t forget that you stood in my son’s place only in the room of Abu Jihad and you confirmed the killing of a despicable murderous terrorist. My son last Thursday also stood before a murderous terrorist, but the script has been flipped and the terrorist who came to murder has turned into a righteous among the gentiles, while my son became a murderer – have we gone crazy?!
Yes, I am afraid we have gone crazy indeed. We are so busy “virtue-signalling” our righteousness to an uncaring and hypocritical world that we forget who we are fighting, and we forget how to fight.
Let the story now stay out of the public limelight and let the wheels of justice take their course, whichever way they turn.