Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli Border Police clash with Arab rioters at Damascus Gate, January 29, 2020.

A month after the IDF changed the rules of engagement to permit soldiers to open fire on Bedouin thieves who break into military bases in the Negev to steal weapons and ammunition, now it appears that the virus of sanity is spreading even further in the army’s leadership that on Sunday announced yet another change: from now on, soldiers will not be punished if they open fire on Arabs who rain stones and Molotov cocktails on their heads.

According to a Sunday night report on Kan 11 News, soldiers will be allowed to open fire on stone- and Molotov cocktail throwers even after they are done and have turned to flee.


Of course, the change will apply only in Judea and Samaria, and the shooting must take place within the combat zone, meaning immediately following the incident and only in events in which there’s a real danger to the lives of the soldiers.

OK, maybe I was wrong about the sudden sanity syndrome. Because that last stipulation, that the lives of the soldiers must be in danger, doesn’t sit with the part about shooting the attackers as they’re fleeing the scene. There’s a loophole there that can fit whole teams of lawyers, one for every fleeing Arab stone- and firebomb-thrower.

Indeed, according to Kan 11, a soldier who shoots a fleeing terrorist would face a Military Police investigation and even an interrogation with a warning – much like those two Border Police officers who dared to shoot dead the terrorist who knifed a Haredi Jew in the neck at Damascus Gate (see video below).

The reason for the crazy-making legalese has to do with the security apparatus’ panic about being hauled before the ICC in the Hague to answer war crime charges. So, as a result, as soon as the military leadership comes up with a normative, sound way to help soldiers do the right thing under a brutal attack by rioting Arabs, the legal folks jump in to introduce vagueness and double-speech to trip up the officers on the ground and strike the fear of prosecution in their hearts.

So far, even though the latest changes of the rules of engagement have been disseminated to the relevant units several weeks ago, and are in effect, no official announcement has been made – somebody told Kan 11, that’s how we found out – and even the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has yet to be informed of the change.

Perhaps we should quell those riots with teams of lawyers? It reminds me of an ancient quip by Yoel Palgi, who was one of the Jewish paratroopers who jumped behind enemy lines in Eastern Europe. Palgi said (I paraphrase from memory): “Those who go to war and don’t come back become national heroes. Those who come back will probably face an investigating panel of judges. And those who didn’t go will be on the panel.”


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