A Soldier’s Defense

The third intifada is already upon us. It is not officially called an intifada, just like Operation Protective Edge was not designated a war, but we all know what is going on.

The government has succeeded in preventing mass casualty incidents, those of us who lived here during the second intifada knew that a loud sound could have been a suicide bombing, so far we have been spared that feeling. Where the government has failed, is our sense of security. More citizens are carrying weapons, many more are applying for permits for weapons, and anyone who has tried to receive one in the past 6 months has known disappointment, because though the government has declared that it will make it easier to receive a permit, the clerks at the Misrad HaRishui have yet to receive new instructions.

But this article is not about the disconnect between the government and the offices under its auspices, this is about the government unable to provide its citizens a sense of security. Who can blame them? All over the world there are acts of terror and the thread that ties many of these acts of terror is that no one knows when it will happen and no one knows who will perpetrate an act of terror.

Here in Israel we have lived with this reality since the beginning of the state; as a result of this every son and daughter that is born, most likely will be drafted into the armed forces. Due to this reality it has been embedded in the Israeli culture that the being in the army is right and that the army is needed. ‘For if we do not defend ourselves who will come to our aid?’

And that is ok. We survive and live because the Army and other forces of the government try to keep a status quo. The UN ‘peace keepers’ that were at our border between us and Syria fled when war broke out in Syria. The one time when they were needed and supposed to do their job, they left. We knew this could happen, so we have had our troops on the border to safe guard us. On our borders of the south we provide an enemy ‘state’ with fuel, electricity and building materials that the majority we know will go into terrorist hands. Why? Because we see it as a moral duty to help those who cannot help themselves even when we know it will eventually harm us. The one thing though that I truly believe allows us to do this, is because we know, when the next round of fighting will break out, the IDF will be there to defend its people.

When citizens or soldiers break the law even in the heat of the moment of a terrorist attack, the government will prosecute them, and the system is by far from perfect. We live in a semi-democracy where rights can be stripped from Israelis, be them Jews or Arabs (and yes Palestinians) in order to prevent a ‘ticking time bomb’. Again this system is far from perfect but it is what we have. However one thing, for lack of a better word, should exist in this semi-democracy; a person (soldier or not) should be innocent until proven guilty. Anyone who has had an encounter with police knows that the opposite is true, you are guilty till proven innocent and even then, the taint of Israeli bureaucracy’s mismanagement will follow you.

To the point, this government has failed the army and the citizens that comprise it. The soldier who killed a neutralized terrorist was immediately declared guilty by the heads of the government. Most likely this soldier is guilty of the crime of murder. A defense has emerged claiming that the soldier had been taught shoot to kill, not neutralize, in the event a terrorist may have a bomb strapped to him. During “Protective Edge” when Gazan fighters surrendered to Israel they were stripped to heir under clothes in case they happen to have a bomb strapped to them. Again just from the video footage seen from the B’Tselem recording most likely the soldier committed murder, again this is just from the video that was shot at the time, in no way is it conclusive. But that is for the courts to decide. The bottom line is regardless of what happened, the government heads should not have immediately declared this boy as guilty.

This government has failed its citizens. Not because it lacks the ability to fix this current security situation, I cannot blame the security establishment, I do not think another operation Defensive Shield can work like in the previous intifada. But the government should at the very least give a neutral response, till the boy has had a proper defense and his day in court. now soldiers be them in regular service or in the reserves lack a sense of security that the government should provide, the sense that the government will ave our back, and not condemn anyone even before a trial has begun. This government has acted poorly and has installed a complete lack of trust by the IDF. The same IDF who we the citizen count on daily to protect us

About the Author
Born outside of Israel, Baruch has since created his life and home in Israel.
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