Soldier Who Aimed at Palestinian Becomes Facebook Hero

Chief of Staff instructs commanders to tell subordinates that Facebook is not a replacement for dialogue between officers and troops.

Photographs from the 'No sell-out' website (Screenshot)
Photographs from the 'No sell-out' website (Screenshot)

Online support for an Israel Defense Forces soldier who was filmed aiming his rifle at a Palestinian youth in Hebron this week is snowballing. By late Thursday morning a Facebook page named "No selling out of IDF soldiers" had amassed over 95,000 Likes and was growing fast.

The video of the soldier, who has become known as "David HaNahlawi" (a reference to his being part of the Nahal brigade,) featured widely in the media earlier this week. A report on the Maariv-NRG website that the soldier had been dismissed and jailed for the incident was denied by the IDF spokesman.

Referring to the uproar on Thursday, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said: "It's important that we remember and tell our subordinates in a clear manner that Facebook is not a command tool. It is here, and that's a fact, but it is not a replacement or even a parallel channel for dialogue between commanders and their soldiers."

Gantz, who was speaking at the weekly meeting of the General Staff, ordered commanders to explain the place of Facebook to their subordinates in the coming days.

The IDF spokesman confirmed that the soldier had been disciplined, but insisted that it "had nothing to do "with the videotaped incident that was distributed online." The soldier's commander reportedly told IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky that he had attacked two of his commanders and had been court-martialed and punished for that offense, Arutz Sheva reported.

"I would have acted in the same way as David the Nahal Brigade warrior," Economy Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday night. "He acted correctly."

"What we see in the film is very simple... He was alone, surrounded by a number of violent Arabs and provocateurs. He did not open fire, (but) he took reasonable steps to protect himself and others around him and brought the incident to an end," Bennett wrote.

"In the background there were two cameramen, and not by chance," he noted. "The extreme-left thrives on smearing the IDF. This should draw condemnations from across the political spectrum."

The creators of the website in support of Davaid Hanahlawi wrote that "IDF soldiers are fed up with being abandoned in the face of the enemy and played with like chess pieces."

The dilemma facing every soldier, they wrote, was "should I risk being humiliated, wounded or even losing my life … or should I use the means available to me … and risk being in a different movie entirely – of being a criminal in court, when all I did was my job?"