Yaakov Amidror - Maya Levin
Yaakov Amidror. Photo by Maya Levin / JINI
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Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yaakov Amidror, a leading candidate for the national security advisor post, told a conference last year that soldiers should kill anyone who gets in the way of completing their mission - and that soldiers who refuse to attack should be shot, too.

"A soldier who won't attack when they tell him 'forward' because he says, 'Two soldiers to my right and two to my left have been killed, so I won't move' - any normal military system should put a bullet in his head, and a liberal system should put him in jail," Amidror said, speaking at a conference organized by the Israel Democracy Institute on "National Values in the Israel Defense Forces."

A few minutes later, he repeated the sentiment. "The education we give soldiers isn't an education of risking or being willing to sacrifice one's life ... of knowing that some of the soldiers won't return, but still, everyone goes. And anyone who doesn't go should get a bullet in the head or be in jail."

"There was a discussion in the General Staff on the subject of human dignity after [former Supreme Court President Aharon] Barak breathed life into the interpreters of this phrase," Amidror continued. "There was a huge argument. I said we mustn't cave in to the trend led by Barak, because the reason the army must give people respect is totally different: It's that dishrags don't attack ... In the army, someone who's a dishrag won't attack, and someone who has no dignity won't attack. Anyone who has no dignity is a dishrag."

Nevertheless, he said, the army is "an organization designed to kill. It's a whole organization that tells people, 'You will kill and be killed.'"

Asked whether soldiers should be taught to kill under any circumstances, Amidror replied, "anyone who hinders him in executing the mission." Even a 5-year-old child? "He should go to jail," Amidror answered.

When journalist Haim Yavin, a fellow panelist, noted the army's orders during the first Lebanon war were to "fight carefully," Amidror responded: "That's a totally illegal order. What should be said is 'kill more of the bastards on the other side, so that we'll win.' Period."

He also criticized the IDF code of ethics drafted by Prof. Asa Kasher. "I said this should remain unwritten, so there wouldn't be anything written, as [then] it would become technical," Amidror said.

Yesterday Amidror, a key contender to replace Uzi Arad as national security advisor, told Haaretz that in some countries soldiers who won't attack are executed, while in others, they are tried.

"We put them on trial. And I think we should be among the countries that put them on trial," he said.

His remarks at the conference recall an incident that shocked the IDF in 1999. In February of that year, three paratroops officers were killed in Lebanon. A few months later, Haaretz reported that the machine gunner, Ofer Sharon, had decided not to join the attack.

"I didn't dare go down," Sharon said. "I knew whoever went down wouldn't come back. I knew that to attack now would be to die in a silly war."

In a leaflet distributed to all IDF officers afterward, Elazar Stern, then the chief education officer, attributed Sharon's decision to a combination of fear and ideology.

"In the end, everyone is afraid," Stern wrote. "But usually, other forces that push you forward counter the fear ... comradeship, responsibility, loyalty to the mission and even shame."