Why We Deserve To Give Terrorists Trials

A few days ago, a terrorist was shot by an IDF soldier, and the reactions from the government, the media and the public have frankly been disturbing.

The country has been divided into two camps: those who condemn the soldier’s actions because the man was supposedly already neutralized, and those who praise them, because the man killed was a terrorist.
I wasn’t there, I don’t know if he still posed a threat and had to be further neutralized. But that’s not the point. The question is not if he should have been shot. The question for Israelis should not be whether or not the soldier who shot him was wrong or right.

The question that should be asked and that is being ignored is what values we want our country to emphasize. It has absolutely nothing to do with security (if it did, there would be no question as to the necessity of this shooting). It doesn’t even have to do with international perception of the event (which is also extremely important).
All the people debating back and forth what the soldier should have done should be asking a much simpler question- do we want our country to be a place where anyone can take the law into their own hands?

I don’t agree with every law, but as a citizen, it’s not my place to determine which of them I will deign to uphold. As a former soldier who is familiar with the IDF’s rules of engagement, I firmly believe that any soldier who takes action without the approval of his commanders or goes against his orders is in the wrong. That should be the basis of this whole discussion.

I trust commanders in the field to accurately assess a situation and I trust soldiers to follow orders. That is why I can sleep at night. Any soldier who betrays that trust is in the wrong.

Obviously, I don’t know that this was the case. But to those leaders provocatively proclaiming wholehearted support for what was possibly an act of mutiny, I ask, what about democracy? What about our justice system? Are they saying that they see those as irrelevant and unnecessary? I’m worried about what these allegations of support say about us as a society.

Instead of being indignant that a soldier got in trouble for doing something he probably wasn’t supposed to, we should be indignant that he did it. It might not be fair, but there are rules.
Despite the fact that the man who was killed left his house wanting to kill Jews, and despite the general feeling that the government isn’t doing enough to discourage terror- we’ve got live up to our own standards.

About the Author
Born to a French mother and American father, Batya came to Israel at a young age. Upon graduating high school in Israel, she spent her military service in the IDF's Foreign Press Branch. She now studies International Relations and Political Science (B.A.) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and lives in Jerusalem with her beautiful daughter.
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