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Why 3 videos of a West Bank shooting are roiling Israel






Pictured: Israeli soldiers removing the body of a Palestinian man who stabbed a soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron, on March 24.


But hours after the incident last week Thursday, a political and moral firestorm engulfed Israel. A video showed a soldier executing the already incapacitated attacker.

One day later, after condemnation from the highest reaches of Israel’s government, a second video appeared to show that the attacker might have still posed a threat. In response, the IDF released results of an investigation indicating the soldier was at fault. Then came a third video showing the soldier shaking hands with a far-right activist after the incident.

The duelling views of the clash are the latest instalments in a running debate over how far Israeli soldiers should go in responding to the ongoing wave of Palestinian knife attacks. The incident has raised questions about the Israel Defence Forces’ rules of engagement, how the army should treat soldiers who break protocol and – within Israeli society – the limits of criticism of the IDF.

Here’s what happened, how it has played out and what it says about Israel’s response to the terror wave.

Last week Thursday morning, two Palestinian men armed with knives, attacked an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron, lightly wounding him. Nearby soldiers shot the two men dead.

But a video taken by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem shows that one of the attackers was killed only after the attack, while he was lying on the ground. In the video, an Israeli soldier approaches the scene, cocks his gun, aims and shoots the man as an ambulance passes by. After the shot, blood flows from his head onto the pavement.

The IDF arrested the soldier and senior Israeli officials criticised his response. Last Friday, the army charged the soldier with murder.

“What happened today in Hebron does not represent the values of the IDF,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week Thursday. “The IDF expects its soldiers to behave level-headedly and in accordance with the rules of engagement.”

Backlash soon followed the criticism. Four-fifths of posts about the shooting on Israeli social media support the soldier, according to Buzzilla, a social media analytics start-up. And a video of the attack released one day later seemed to corroborate the claim that the attacker could still be dangerous: Paramedics urge people to stay away from the attacker, as he could be preparing to detonate explosives.

Politicians to Netanyahu’s right have criticised him for rushing to condemn the incident and insufficiently supporting Israel’s troops. On Saturday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Facebook that officials should withhold criticism until the IDF finishes its investigation. Bennett and Netanyahu argued over the incident at last Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, according to Israeli reports.

“Are we out of our minds?” Bennett wrote. “We’re at war. A war against cruel terror. It’s possible the soldier erred. It’s possible he didn’t. It’s possible he felt that the terrorist had an explosive and could detonate it at any time, and by shooting him he would save lives and prevent a subsequent attack.”

In response to the criticism, the IDF released the results of its investigation thus far, which indicate the soldier arrived at the scene only several minutes after the terror attack and acted independently. His officers had checked the attacker and rejected the possibility that he had a bomb.

Last Sunday, a third video surfaced showing the soldier shaking hands with far-right Kahanist activist Baruch Marzel after the attack.

“On the professional front, we have found that the [other] soldiers acted appropriately, and we praise their actions and their quick foiling of the terrorists,” IDF spokesman Brig Gen Moti Almoz wrote on Facebook last Sunday. “On the values front, after an initial investigation by the commanders, we have found that this is a severe incident.”

Netanyahu is hardly the first to criticise Israeli soldiers’ response to the terror wave. Since its outset last year, perceived oversteps in the IDF’s response to the stabbing attacks have drawn criticism from leaders both within and outside of Israel.

Since September, more than 200 Palestinian stabbing attacks have left 34 Israelis dead and hundreds wounded, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. Israeli forces have killed more than 200 Palestinians, most of them attackers, according to news reports. Centrist and right-wing Israeli politicians, including Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, have encouraged soldiers to kill attackers on the spot.

The US State Department, as well as Sweden’s Foreign Ministry, have criticised Israel for a disproportionate response to the attacks. Even IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot told high-schoolers last month that he “doesn’t want a soldier emptying a magazine on a girl carrying scissors”, while Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said the next day: “We need to know how to win and still remain human.” Eizenkot, in turn, was criticised for not defending his soldiers. 

The problem is not with the IDF’s rules of engagement, but rather with how they’re enforced, former Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben Meir told JTA. He said “99,9 per cent” of IDF actions were appropriate, but that the army needed to make a concerted effort to educate soldiers about conduct in fighting terror and to enforce norms.

“When there’s continual terror, it creates pressure and tension, so what we need to learn from this situation, the most important thing, is to keep the rules of engagement,” said Ben Meir, who heads the National Security and Public Opinion Project at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. “If everyone does whatever they think, everything will fall apart.” (JTA)


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  1. nat cheiman

    Mar 30, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Sorry Nat, that was not appropriate for publication  -MODERATOR

    \nThat he shook the hand of a right wing Israeli is of no consequence. Left wing or right wing Israelis are Israeli citizens, so what point was the media making?
    \nMedia tends to be anti Israeli/ Jewish, and disingenuous.
    \nI disagree with Sweden and the US foreign ministry on how the IDF should behave. Both those countries have their own problems to attend to with Islamic terrorists. The IDF is capable of doing the job.Its not correct, perhaps, to empty an entire magazine into a 15 year old’s head but you cannot prescribe to a soldier in the heat of the moment . 
    \nWhy do countries want to kill terrorists who maim & kill in their countries, but want Israel to negotiate with terrorists when Israelis are killed?’

  2. Choni

    Mar 31, 2016 at 9:11 am

    ‘Dear Nat. Am \”dying\” to know what you wrote that Ant. has banned.

    Please contact me 0766129112.


  3. nat cheiman

    Mar 31, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    ‘The aftermath of Davids fight with Goliath; After flooring Goliath with his slingshot, David took Goliaths sword and ( whilst Goliath was still alive) chopped his head off. Thereafter, there was no more trouble with the Philistines . So nu!!!??? Philistines= palestinians. IDF soldier = David. Quad erat demonstrant.’

  4. Choni

    Apr 1, 2016 at 8:15 am

    ‘Details of Nat’s comment can be found in a book called the Tanach. 1 Samuel chapter 17; 49,50,51.


  5. LJ

    Apr 4, 2016 at 10:12 am

    ‘We all know the story of David and Goliath, However to use it to promote or okay what this soldier did is not on. We need to adhere to the rules of warfare and rules of engagement or risk becoming our enemies.

    Choni I am not surprised at your outlook and quoting. 

    It is not unpatriotic to criticize wrongdoing this soldier was wrong. The IDF is a moral army and must remain so. ‘

  6. nat cheiman

    Apr 5, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    ‘LJ. This soldier has attained hero status  in Israel, as far as I understand from various articles on the net.

    I see no reason to deviate from what is written in the book of Samuel. If we do, then do we deviate from the commandments;EG , not to obey shabbos?

    I’m afraid that the Philistines laid down the rules and continue to do so by slaughtering Jews with almost impunity. The Christians apparently tell people to\”turn the other cheek\”. There is no such aphorism in Jewish Law.

    It is relatively easy to sit in an armchair and make rules. Islamic radicals laugh at the West and Israel for being soft.

    That palestinian had a settled determination to KILL.

    Now he doesn’t, because the soldier neutralised him, never to harm any Jew again. And so the palestinians may or may never learn .

    Consider Hamas using tunnels, and entering a neighbourhood where there are Jews and their children and slaughtering them. I personally believe that if it was one of my family, I would do the same to the terrorist.

    Jews cannot be held accountable for killing those that attack them for the purpose of murdering Jews.

    I do not suggest that Jews murder. My suggestion is that they summarily execute terrorists.   Finish and klaar. ( the late Jackie Selebi’s quote)

  7. nat cheiman

    Apr 5, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    ‘PS. We ( Jews and Israel, do not need to adhere to the rules of warfare. Thats the reason Isis is laughing at the West. Belgium/France /Sweden and most of Europe have masses of potential terrorists in their midst. The way Israel will beat the scumbag terrorists is to fight the way Hamas and Hezbollah and Fatah do. Unfair? Who made the rules of engagement?

    LJ. You don’t go to a gunfight with a knife. It matters not what the Geneva Convention says. Jews and Israelis are not family of the West/Europe /United Nations etc etc’

  8. Gary

    Apr 5, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    ‘What happened to my post???’

  9. LJ

    Apr 6, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    ‘At the risk of a firestorm towards myself with this next statement ill take the risk. Here goes

    Now I will admit that there are lunatic fringes of Islam that act like the mafia that will kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.

    Terrorism in any way shape or form is wrong and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.

    As civilised people the only thing separating us from these terrorists is that we abide by the rules of engagement in active warfare.

    If we lose that we lose ourselves.

    We cannot use religious doctrine to condone murder. If you do that. You my friend ARE Sharia Law I mean what is it about religion that it stops people from thinking because they think all the answers are in that one book; it impedes progress; it justifies crazy actions.

    First it justified flying planes into buildings because oh yes that was a faith-based initiative. Let us not condone murder in the name of faith NOT EVEN ONCE! I am not saying that what this guy did was parallel to 9/11 obviously not that would be strange and wrong. I am simply using an extreme example to illustrate a point.

    One of the complaints levelled against me is, \”Oh LJ, you’re such a stick in the mud. Why do you have to go after religion? It gives people comfort; it doesn’t hurt anything.\”

    I suppose they are right I mean its not like doing things in the name of religion has ever done anything bad…other than most wars… the Crusades… the Inquisition… 9/11… arranged marriages to minors… blowing up girls’ schools… the suppression of women and homosexuals.. fatwas…ethnic cleansing… honour rape, human sacrifice, burning witches, suicide bombings and condoning slavery, these are a few little things I have a problem with.

    So please can we not condone murder EVEN ONCE. So that we do not get tarred and feathered by the same stuff as the religions that have condoned it.

  10. nat cheiman

    Apr 6, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    ‘LJ. Nu!!!! ???? Lunatics is the correct word. You cannot be civil to such people.’

  11. David Olivier

    Apr 11, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    ‘Referring to Nat’s comment \”‘The Christians apparently tell people to ‘turn the other cheek’. There is no such aphorism in Jewish Law.\” True, the aphorism to turn the other cheek is a command of Jesus (Matt 5:39), but it is in fact echoed in Jewish literature. In fact, Solomon’s command is arguably even more extreme: \”If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will be scooping coals on his head and the Lord with reward you\”. Turning the other cheek need not mean passively accepting all forms of violence. It is a call to a higher moral standard which will at the very least bring shame on your enemy. It will garner support from third parties and possibly even diffuse cycles of violence. For example, consider 2 Kings 6:18-23. In this event, Isreal have the Syrian army at their mercy, but chose rather to prepare a banquet for them before sending them home. The result? \”…the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory\” (v23).  While \”an eye for an eye\” is permissible or even ‘fair’, it is not the most effective way to end cycles of violence. Showing mercy, even love, to those do not deserve it will shame the enemy and win allies – a far greater victory than petty vengeance. That being said, I fully sympathise with soldiers who have to make life-and-death decisions in a moment. What I am talking about is a value, not an inflexible rule for every situation.’

  12. nat cheiman

    Apr 12, 2016 at 10:38 am

    ‘David, you quote from the new testament so you have me at a disadvantage. However, it is indeed, a decent thing to do, to be civil, and show mercy.

    Unfortunately, there are too many \”bad \”people out there and my personal view is that we are fast reaching a point of global conflagration because of Islamic/radicalism.

    That said, the Americans ended the last war with nuclear weapons. It seems that the next war will also be ended by nukes.

    In any event, I see no reason to be held to a higher standard than my enemies, irrespective of what the bible says. Like I said, who goes to a gunfight with a knife?

    The quicker these satanic and warlike devils  are wiped off the earth, the better for mankind. They are taking up valuable real estate ( and stealing oxygen).


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