Following reports in the Israeli press on IDF reserve and enlisted soldiers complaining about their humiliating experiences during countless incidents of being hit, pelted with rocks and firebombed and being unable to react on account of the IDF rules of engagement, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Ganz on Tuesday said “there is no intention of changing the rules of engagement.” This despite the fact that so many soldiers have testified that their lives are in danger during those incidents, and that often their only realistic option is to hide or flee.
One soldier quoted his superior officer as saying: “I prefer to visit you in hospital than in court.” (Read: IDF Latest Response to Arab Riots: ‘Nerf’ Bullets).
The chief of staff said that he and the defense minister give their full support to Central Command Chief, Gen. Nitzan Alon, who is considered by many Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria as the core of the problem, because of his leftist views.
Lt.-Gen. Ganz said: “If we loosen the reins, there will be an escalation in Judea and Samaria and we will lose control. We have to improve the manner by which we train soldiers to act according to the existing rules.”
I’ll cite here once more the IDF Spokesperson’s Office’s explanation of the apparent conflicts and outright suffering and humiliation, not to speak of life endangerment, faced by soldiers trying to do their jobs facing violent Arab demonstrators. The response reads like something written by a team of legal and psychological experts:
“The IDF forces in Judea and Samaria are challenged daily by a complex reality requiring professionalism and determination together with judgment. The rules of engagement in Judea and Samaria facilitate an appropriate range of responses to a wide variety of threats faced by IDF forces and they are tested occasionally according to evaluations. It must be stressed that taking immediate action against violators of the public order and popular terror activists does not negate determined and effective action, and at its root lies the understanding that as small a number of injured as possible would help guard the security stability in the region.”
In this reporter’s view, the extra training required to better train IDF soldiers to comply with the above might as well include three years of law school.
The chief of staff was responding to complaints from right wing MKs on the Foreign and Defense Committee, about what is emerging as a third intifada in Judea and Samaria, engineered by the Mahmoud Abbas Palestinian Authority.
“I don’t like the signs against Gen. Nitzan Alon,” Ganz added.
So now it’s mutual.