Last week, the video of “David the Nahlawi” took the Israeli media and public by storm. David’s attempt to defend himself by cocking his gun at his aggressors, and his subsequent punishment, roused thousands of Israelis to erupt in protest and show their solidarity with David.
After the incident, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office came out with a statement attributing David’s punishment to a prior act of insubordination, rather than a consequence of his act of self-defense. Whether or not one believes the IDF’s official statement, the reality still stands that IDF soldiers are not granted the ability to properly defend themselves.
Soldier’s hands are tied. They are placed in challenging situations where they are both verbally and physically assaulted, and are forbidden to defend themselves. The voice of my commanding officer telling us that we are forbidden to shoot an assailant who is standing in front of us with an unlit Molotov cocktail in one hand and a lighter in the other hand, still rings in my ears today (only if the Molotov cocktail is actually lit are soldiers permitted to shoot at the attacker’s legs).
These restrictions placed on the soldiers result from international pressure as well as campaigns initiated by radical left-wing Israeli NGOs, which endanger the lives of IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens by permitting and perpetuating the violence.
The international bias that faces Israel is indeed troubling, but it is not the IDF’s job to worry about CNN, BBC, or The New York Times, rather to worry about the safety of its soldiers and citizens. Deterrence is a crucial factor in maintaining security, and the absence of an appropriate response to an act of aggression perpetuates further acts of aggression that not only affect the IDF, but the Israeli citizens as well (the continuous rocket-fire by Hamas onto Israeli cities serves as an unfortunate example).
Campaigns launched by radical left-wing Israeli organizations under the guise of human rights, such as B’Tselem’s campaign to freely distribute cameras to Arabs residing in Judea and Samaria, serve as a breeding ground for violence. Instead of using the cameras to document incidents of actual human rights violations, the cameras are used to provoke Israeli soldiers into a response, creating violence and confrontations where there otherwise would be none.
In his book, Financing the Flames, Edwin Black illustrates this point when he documents the weekly riots at Nabi Saleh, an Arab village in Judea and Samaria. He writes that the moment his cameraman arrived, the otherwise dull protest erupted into a full-fledged riot filled with rock throwing, staged pictures, and screaming at the soldiers (which, for the benefit of the cameraman, was done in English as opposed to the protestors’ native Arabic or Hebrew).
Despite what many on the far-left think, this is not a problem stemming from the “occupation.” Blaming this issue on Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria instead of addressing the core problem is simply shifting the focus in order to feed their one-sided agendas. Similar cases where IDF soldiers were not permitted to exercise their right of self-defense were well documented in Operation Cast Lead and in the Second Lebanon War. IDF soldiers must be given the right to defend themselves regardless if they are in Hebron, Gaza City, or Tel-Aviv.
“David the Nahlawi” is merely one of the many incidents that happen to IDF soldiers on a daily basis, resulting from the international media and radical Israeli-left organizations that fuel the fires of violence and wait opportunely for the next video portraying the IDF in a negative light. In Israel there is a slogan: Tnu LiTzahal LiNatzeach, which translates to “Let The IDF Win.”