By now I am sure most of you have seen the images of the IDF soldier apparently shooting dead a terrorist who seemed to be neutralized – given it has gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
In case you haven’t:
Of course, this footage is being used to advance the narrative that the IDF are war criminals.
Which is why I feel the need to address it.
My initial reaction is it really does not look good. The terrorist seems immobilized and not a further threat. And I am not alone, with the IDF detaining the soldier in question until the conclusion of a proper military investigation. Statements from the IDF and the Defense Minister indicate the seriousness with which this incident is being viewed.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response: “An initial investigation into the incident found this to be a very grave incident that contravenes the IDF’s values and what is expected of its soldiers and commanders. In light of the findings of the initial investigation done by the commanders at the scene, the investigation was passed on to the IDF’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).”
The Incident has caused concern among leaders of the Israeli defense establishment. IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Moti Almoz announced Thursday that the soldier was arrested and questioned. He mentioned that all those involved in the event will be questioned, and that it was “a very severe incident. This is not the IDF culture or the Jewish peoples’ culture.”
Brig. Gen. Almoz added, “As far as the orders given to soldiers are concerned, the moment terrorists are neutralized, soldiers are supposed to immediately give medical assistance to the wounded, including the terrorists. This is the IDF, these are the values of the IDF, and this is not up for interpretation. We are unambiguous about this.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded to the video as well, saying, “The incident is highly severe, and completely contrary to the IDF’s values and its combat morals. We must not allow, even as our blood boils, such a loss of faculties and control. This incident will be dealt with in the strictest manner. Our struggle against Palestinian terror, and terror in general, is determined and decisive. We have no intention of compromising on the issue of our citizens’ and soldiers’ security, and we are handling the terrorists and their dispatchers with an iron fist.”
Ya’alon mentioned that “Even when we have to hit our enemies and beat them in war or battle, our moral duty is to (adhere to a strict moral standard). Preserve our humanity. Remember the limits of strength after the enemy has been struck as well, and avoid acting in immoral ways. Remember that our strength does not come from our military capabilities alone, but – first of all – from our moral power. This is our duty, to win and remain human beings.”
Does not sound to me like an army that condones what seems to be an extrajudicial killing, albeit of a terrorist. And while I am not sad the terrorist is dead, I understand the importance of having these rules of engagement in place.
I should also point out that the IDF soldier in question claims he believed the terrorist was still a danger.
The soldier who was documented shooting a neutralized terrorist saw the terrorist move, thinking he might have been reaching to detonate a bomb, his lawyer said Thursday.
“You can clearly see in the video that the terrorist moves, and that the terrorist is wearing a coat that could conceal an explosive vest and other explosives underneath,” attorney Benjamin Malka said. “We are studying the case and will give our client proper representation.”
Malka continued, “This is a process that is at its start. Things have yet to be deeply examined and I am saddened to see that a public trial has been conducted before the suspect has been given the right to defend his innocence.” The soldier’s family told the press that “We are studying things, and believe in the innocence of our son, who is an exemplary fighter and a combat medic.”
While speaking to family members in a private conversation hours after his initial arrest by Military Police, the soldier said: “I did the right thing at the right time in order to prevent anything else bad from happening.”
The soldier added that he feared that the terrorist, who had already succeeded in stabbing another solider, was going to try to attack other soldiers. “He wore a thick coat and therefore I feared that he would stand and detonate an explosive belt.”
“After I saw the terrorist moved,” the soldier continued, “I shot him. I just feared that the terrorist would blow himself up.”
This sounds possible, given it really was a very hot day yesterday (I should know, I was outside BBQ’ing). So wearing a coat could definitely create a presumption that he was also carrying a bomb belt. And he had just stabbed someone after all – so we can assume if he was hiding anything under that coat, it was not girl scout cookies.
At the end of the day, I was not there and do not know exactly what happened, or what was going through the soldier’s head. What I do know is the IDF is taking the incident seriously. The soldier will either be exonerated or face jail time, depending on the findings.
Either way, he will not have a street named after him.
Update: A new video from the incident has emerged, which seems to corroborate what the soldier and witnesses claimed regarding concern about a possible explosive device.
About 20 seconds in, one of the paramedics says:
“המחבל הזה חי עוד, הכלב הזה… שלא יקום עלינו”
“This terrorist is still alive, this dog…don’t let him attack us.”
Someone else is then heard saying:
“יש עליו כנראה מטען, שימו לב, עד שלא בא חבלן לא נוגעים בו”
“It seems there is an explosive device on him , pay attention, until a bomb sapper comes, don’t touch him.”
The first man is then heard saying:
“הוא חיייי, בואיינה, שמישהו יעשה משהו”
“He is alive, come here, so someone will do something.”