The Israeli Military's Values Are in Urgent Need of Thorough Revamping

The IDF, these hollow leaders like to babble, is the most moral army in the world, providing it adopts unconditionally the moral borders marked by its leaders.

Israeli soldiers surround the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after attacking a soldier in Hebron, March 24, 2016.
Israeli soldiers surround the body of one of the two Palestinians who were killed after attacking a soldier in Hebron, March 24, 2016. AFP

With every passing day, it becomes apparent how right Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot was to clarify the rules of engagement and the exercise of power, which must take into consideration a given event’s context and circumstances.

At the same time, politicians and agitators are escalating their acrimonious rhetoric against the IDF and its commander-in-chief. The army and chief of staff find themselves – through the government’s fault – in an impossible situation as military policemen in a civilian society, a tiny minority of which carries out terror attacks.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon denounced the shooting of a wounded Palestinian assailant lying on the ground and the army arrested the soldier responsible. But the radical right has launched an aggressive counter campaign, in a bid to reshape the event. The vitriolic campaign attempts to bend the rule of law and the rules of engagement, which, as a video clip of the incident clearly shows, were blatantly violated.

“The media and the politicians cannot be the soldier’s court and hangman,” wrote Education Minister Naftali Bennett on his Facebook page, with unconscious irony. “Could any of you have known what the situation was really like…had the terrorist been booby-trapped, the soldier would have emerged a hero.”

According to Bennett, then, the shooting may not have been about self-defense only, but may even have been a potential act of heroism. An act that saved all those who happened to be there – those who were completely oblivious to the possibility that the militant was booby trapped and didn’t take cover. That was because it was obvious that the wounded man on the ground posed no danger to anyone. Those who were there only expressed surprise that he was still alive, and saw his murder a fitting and commonplace end to the incident.

Nor are Bennett and his faction colleague Bezalel Smotrich, who declared that the terrorist in any case “deserved to die,” in the least bit interested in the murder of a Palestinian in Hebron. At most they see it as an opportunity for political leverage. They know what their followers want and make sure to feed them.

Bennett is right in saying the soldier will be judged by a court of law. But the abominable act was formed in the womb of a putrid atmosphere, awash with demagoguery and encouragement to murder, which is fostered by politicians like Benett and Yisrael Katz and rabbis like Yitzhak Yosef. They bear a heavy load of responsibility and blame, because to a large extent the soldier was obeying the spirit of the masses, which was agitated by these knights of gangland morality.

The IDF, these hollow leaders like to babble, is the most moral army in the world, providing it adopts unconditionally the moral borders marked by its leaders.

The Palestinian’s murder is the alarming proof, although not the only or first one, that the IDF’s values, which have a considerable effect on the state’s values, are in urgent need of thorough revamping. Most importantly, they must not remain in the hands of blood peddlers.