The Most Moral Army in the World

The Israel Defense Forces believes brute strength is the only way to act, yet Israelis refuse to see what Amnesty International and others tell them.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The most moral army in the world fired an anti-tank missile at the house in which a wanted young Palestinian was hiding. The most moral army in the world ran a bulldozer over the top of the house and destroyed it.

The most moral army in the world used dogs to search the ruins. The most moral army in the world used a drill it calls a “pressure cooker” – a rather disgusting drill it invented for itself.

It happened last Thursday, at Bir Zeit in the West Bank. The soldiers of the most moral army arrived early in the morning for another “arrest operation,” like others that happen every night and which you rarely hear anything about.

It involves sowing fear in villages in the middle of the night, invading houses whose inhabitants – including the children – are sleeping soundly, brutal searches and destruction. Sometimes, like last Thursday, it also ends in death.

All this is happening at a time when terror operations are very limited.

Sometimes these operations are conducted for a true operational need, but also sometimes as a training routine in order to preserve the readiness of the forces and a demonstration of sovereign power toward the residents.

The Israel Defense Forces has also created a heartwarming name for all this: the “Tool of Disruption” – storming a civilian community for the purpose of causing panic and fear, and to disrupt its life – as was once exposed in the military court and by the Yesh Din human rights organization.

In Bir Zeit, it was for three young men who were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization that is not especially active.

And even as the military correspondents rushed to say, as is their wont, that the IDF claimed the three “had the intention to carry out a terror attack in the near future” – yes, the most moral army in the world is also an army that reads intentions – it is doubtful if they were worthy of death.

But the IDF killed Muataz Washaha, who refused to surrender, claiming he had a rifle – an assassination in the third watch without a ticking bomb, and Israel also accepted this story with a yawn.

That is how the most moral army in the world acts, and how it believes it must act. There is no other way to arrest a young man except for killing him with an anti-tank missile and destroying his family’s home.

As luck would have it, that very same day a professional opinion was released on the true morality of the IDF: Amnesty International published a report, called Trigger Happy, in which it determined that IDF soldiers demonstrate gross contempt for human life, expressed in the killing of dozens of Palestinian citizens, including children. The organization states that this is intentional killing that is possibly even a war crime.

Of course, this did not succeed in breaking the enthusiastic belief of Israelis in the exalted morality of their army. “Go to Syria” is their frequent riposte.

The Foreign Ministry and the IDF explained that Amnesty International suffers a “complete lack of understanding of the operational challenges.”

And in truth, what does Amnesty understand? At the end of last week, the military regime that rules in Myanmar (Burma) halted the activities of the Médecins Sans Frontières organization within its borders, for similar reasons. If it could, Israel would also stop the work of Amnesty and similar groups.

But a respectable citizen does not need Amnesty International to know. Only two days ago, the IDF killed a woman on the Gaza border at Khan Yunis, after conducting another protocol against her – the “Distancing Protocol.” The killing of demonstrators near the fence that chokes the Gaza Strip is routine – what’s to report? It’s just like the firing on fishermen.

In the West Bank, too, protesters, stone throwers, children and young people are shot and killed.

That is how the child Wajih al-Ramahi was shot in Jalazun, about two months ago. Two weeks ago, B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories published its autopsy conclusions: Ramahi was shot in the back, from a range of 200 meters.

This was also the fate of the youth Samir Awad from Budrus, and of dozens of others killed who did not endanger the lives of anyone and were shot to death by a frighteningly easy trigger finger, dying for no purpose.

No one was put on trial for these acts of killing. With Awad, who was shot in the back in an ambush and whose death was documented at the time, the case has been gathering dust for over a year with the military prosecutor.

And all this from the most moral army in the world. Just try to appeal it. Just try to claim that the IDF is the second most moral army in the world – let’s say, after the army of Luxembourg.

IDF soldiers on operational duty in the West Bank.Credit: AP

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