I am one of many Israeli parents with a son or daughter in the IDF. I am the father of a soldier that has been fired on and ordered to stand down and not return fire. That is military discipline. There are times when one must obey an order that seems contrary to one’s own survival instinct. That is how a modern military functions. Without that kind of discipline, we’d have no command and control mechanism.
While only those involved in the investigation of the incident in Hevron know what actually happened, we are getting a steady stream of information from generally reliable media outlets that allows us to form an opinion. We can form an opinion without condemning or exonerating.
From information provided to the public, it now appears that
- The soldier in question was not part of the ongoing operations in the terror incident.
- He arrived a full six minutes after the incident.
- The downed terrorist had already been checked for explosives by a commander who was part of the operation.
- There are specific protocols dealing with suspected explosive belts on a downed suspect.
- Those protocols do not call for live fire in the direction of the suspected explosives when medical personnel, security forces and civilians are standing within a few meters or less of the suspect.
Thus far, it appears that the scenario outlined in item #5 is what happened. If this is indeed the case, a serious breach of discipline and protocol occured.
I am not crying over the death of a terrorist, and I recognize that these soldiers are operating under incredible stresses. God only knows how any of us would react to serving in a theater of operations in which a knife could be plunged into your neck at any moment. Make no mistake about it, this soldier is a hero, but heroes can also make mistakes.
My concern is not so much with the actions of this soldier as it is with people who seem to believe that an effective military can be run with each man doing that which is right in his(or their) own eyes.
While I may have formed an opinion about this case, I am not so foolish as to believe that I have all the facts before me and could condone the public villification of a soldier with an exemplary record.
He gave years of his life and put eveything on the line to serve this country. He deserves better than he has received from not only bottom feeder politicians, but the very highest echelons of government. He was immediately condemned by the Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel. In a small country like Israel, this destroys the prospect of due process. This kind of irresponsible behavior on the part of the government cannot help but influence the military investigators, prosecutors and everyone else involved in the case.
My first instinct was to not support those who are protesting for the soldier’s release, but with such irresponsible government leadership, public pressure could be the only way to ensure he gets a fair trial and isn’t railroaded by higher-ups who just want the whole thing to go away.
We often hear the slogan “Let the IDF do their job!” The military police and courts-martial are also part of the IDF and they too should be allowed to do their job, to conduct a fair investigation and trial without undue external influences.