Yisrael Katz Takes IDF Chief of Staff to Task Over Supermarket Stabbing

Transport minister says he hopes response to Thursday's stabbing in Sha'ar Binyamin was not 'hesitant' due to Eisenkot's reiteration of the rules of engagement.

Shiran Granot

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz took IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to task over his recent statements regarding the military's rule of engagement during terror attacks. Katz said he hopes the response to the stabbing was not delayed because Israeli security forces are now fearful of opening fire in such situations.

Eisenkot's words received the support of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier on Thursday, who also said that Israeli forces should not have "itchy trigger fingers."

"Two Israelis have just been wounded in a stabbing attack in Binyamin by two 14-year-old terrorists," Katz wrote on his Facebook page, referring to Thursday's stabbing attack in a supermarket in Sha'ar Binyamin, in the West Bank.

One of the wounded has since died.

"The terrorists were captured alive. I hope that the statement against the automatic shooting of minors by the chief of staff, who I know and regard highly, was not wrongly interpreted and didn't lead to hesitation that put lives in danger.

"Sometimes the message is louder than the words. The codes of conduct and limitations are clear, but terrorists who attack Jews should not get out alive," Katz wrote.

Addressing school students on Wednesday, Eisenkot said that he didn't want "a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors."

The Israel Defense Forces "cannot speak in slogans, such as 'if someone comes to kill you, kill them first,' or 'everyone who carries scissors should be killed,'" Eisenkot said.

"Troops can act only if there is threat to life."

Ya'alon supported the general's words earlier on Thursday, telling soldiers and students: "I give my full backing to Eisenkot's remarks vis-à-vis the rules of engagement. We can't allow ourselves to become desensitized or to have itchy trigger fingers."

Eisenkot's statement was criticized by Knesset members Moti Yogev and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) on Thursday.

"Presenting 'kill or be killed' as a hollow slogan that can't be upheld by the IDF is, unfortunately, showing disrespect for one of the moral values that the Jewish people bequeathed to the world," Smotrich said in an interview with Army Radio.

"When the chief of staff disrespects it, he is presenting a world of distorted values."

Yogev wrote on Facebook that he agrees with the chief of staff that "it is not necessary to empty a magazine into a terrorist with scissors whose intention is to kill, but on the other hand it is necessary to ensure that the next one who tries to kill you is killed.

"It is not a slogan. The chief of staff's statement was mistaken and unworthy. He should retract what he said, so that it is not understood as contempt for the sources of Israel on which we rest," he wrote.