Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Lunatic Israeli Occupation Soldiers Murder Wounded
Palestinians Teenagers With Impunity from the Apartheid Regime
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 18, 2016
The Case of Soldier A
IT SEEMS that everything possible has
already been said, written, proclaimed, asserted and denied about the
incident that is rocking Israel.
Everything except the main point.
THE INCIDENT revolves around "the Soldier of Hebron". Military
censorship does not allow him to be called by his name. He may be called
It happened in the Tel Rumaida neighborhood of the
occupied South West Bank town of Hebron, where a group of super-extreme
right-wing settlers live in the midst of some 160,000 Palestinians and are
heavily protected by the Israeli army. Violent incidents abound.
the day in question, two local Palestinians attacked some soldiers with
knives. Both were shot on the spot. One of them was killed, the other was
severely wounded and was lying on the ground.
The place was
full of people. Medics were tending to the wounded soldier (but not the
Palestinian), several officers and soldiers were standing around, together
with some of the settlers.
After six minutes Soldier A appeared on
the scene. He looked around for 4 minutes, then approached the wounded
assailant and coolly shot him dead with a bullet to the head from close up.
The autopsy showed that this was indeed the shot that killed the
As a finale, the camera clip shows Soldier A shaking
hands with one of the settlers, the infamous Baruch Marzel, a leader of the
outlawed party of the late Meir Kahane, who was designated by the Supreme
Court as a fascist.
UP TO this point, there is no
discussion about the facts. For a simple reason: the whole incident was
videoed by a local Palestinian man from close up. The Israeli human rights
group B'Tselem has provided many Palestinians with cameras for just such an
(B'Tselem is a Biblical name and means "In (His)
image". According to Genesis 2, God created the human being "in His image".
This is one of the most humane verses of the Bible, since it means that all
human beings, without distinction, are created in the image of God.)
The camera plays a central role in this incident. In the present intifada,
many Arab assailants have been killed in such incidents. There is a strong
suspicion that many of them were executed after they were already
"neutralized" – army-speak for Arab assailants who cannot cause harm because
they are dead, severely wounded or taken prisoner.
ISRAELI army orders, soldiers are not allowed to kill enemy attackers once
they no longer constitute a danger. On the other hand, many politicians and
army officers believe that "a terrorist should not be allowed to stay alive"
after an attack. This was an informal order by the late Prime Minister
Yitzhak Shamir (himself an outstanding former terrorist).
the army command has never accepted this rule. When, in Shamir's days as
Prime Minister, the Shin Bet chief killed two captive bus hijackers, he was
facing a criminal indictment until he was pardoned by the President of
Israel. He was dismissed.
In another recent incident, a Palestinian
teen-age girl was seen on camera running around in the street waving a pair
of scissors. She was shot dead at short range by a policeman.
these specific cases, it was the camera that made the difference. (Perhaps
the divine commandment should be amended to read: "Thou Shalt Not Kill When
There is a Camera Around!")
The commander of Soldier A asked him on
the spot why he shot the wounded Palestinian. Soldier A answered
spontaneously: "He wounded my comrade, so he deserved to die."
after, he realized that this was the wrong answer, so he amended it: "He was
moving and there was a knife lying next to him, so I felt threatened."
However, it appeared that another soldier had already kicked the knife away.
Later, he voiced another reason, to which he has stuck ever since: "I
saw a bulge under his jacket and thought that he had a suicide belt on. I
shot to prevent him from killing everybody around." This is highly
improbable, since the camera clip shows clearly that all the other people
nearby were unperturbed The wounded man had already been searched. So the
Military Police announced that they were investigating Soldier A for murder.
A HUGE storm broke loose. All over the country, rightists,
settlers, politicians and such attacked the army command in a language never
The Minister of Education, Naftali Bennett, the
leader of the extreme rightist "Jewish Home" party, savagely attacked the
Minister of Defense, a former army Chief of Staff, who is a moderate Likud
The present Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, was undeterred.
He reiterated the army orders and strongly supported the actions of the
military police against the mob of talkbackers who inundated the social
media with thousands of messages cursing the army command. Binyamin
Netanyahu first feebly supported his Minister of Defense, then he called the
father of Soldier A to express his support.
This was only the beginning. The parents of Soldier A openly attacked the
army command in the media for "forsaking" their darling son, the members of
Soldier A's army unit freely cursed their commanders and the military
police, all over the country the cry went up that Soldier A was a "hero".
Demonstrations of soldiers and civilians took place in front of the
military court inside an army compound. Cabinet ministers and Knesset
members came to the courtroom in order to demonstrate their solidarity with
the "hero". Both the army chief and the defense minister were called on by
the mob to resign.
I WOULD like to add here some personal
In the 1948 war I was a combat soldier in a commando unit,
which was awarded the honorary title of "Samson's Foxes". I took part in
some 50 engagements. I wrote two books about this experience. The first, "In
the Fields of the Philistines", was written throughout the war and described
the battles. Everything written in it was the truth and only the truth, but
not the whole truth. The second book, "The Other side of the Coin", which
was published immediately after the war, described the dark sides of the
war, including war crimes.
On the basis of this experience I dare
to assert: everybody who calls Soldier A a hero is insulting the hundreds of
thousands of decent combat soldiers, who served in the Israeli army since
then until now, and among them real heroes (like the four Moroccan-born
soldiers who risked their lives and carried me to safety under fire when I
A hero is a soldier who risks his life to save a
comrade or to carry out some other essential assignment. Somebody who shoots
a wounded enemy is not a hero, and to call him so is an insult to all the
decent soldiers who are trying to preserve their humanity under hard –
sometimes impossible – circumstances.
A decent soldier does not need
army orders in order to distinguish between allowed and forbidden, between
decent and criminal, between a hero and a bloody coward. He just knows.
SOME PEOPLE may wonder about my attitude towards the army.
a pacifist. I detest war and violence. But I am not a simpleton. I know that
every country needs an army, not only in times of war but also in times of
An army is a killing machine. But after the atrocious
30-year war in the 17th century, civilized mankind fixed limitations. In
short, violence is allowed if it serves the purposes of the war, but is
absolutely forbidden if it is used against helpless human beings, such as
prisoners and the wounded.
As some of us foresaw,
nearly 50 years of occupation has
corrupted our army in many ways. It is not the army in which
I served. It is not an army I can be proud
of. It resembles a colonial police force more than an army
whose duty is to defend our state in a tumultuous neighborhood.
Foreigners may wonder about the fact that in Israel, the army command is
generally more moderate than the government and the politicians. For
historical reasons, this has always been so. I do blame the army command for
many faults and misdeeds, but I must praise it for its strength of character
in this case.
THE MAIN point of this incident, which nobody dares
to spell out, is that for the first time in the history of Israel we are
witnessing a full-fledged mutiny.
There is no other way to define
A group of soldiers, supported by a major part of the political
scene, has mutinied against their commanders. This is a major menace to the
structure of the state, a challenge to what remains of our democracy.
The rot that started in the occupied territories is spreading throughout the
country. It has now manifested itself in the one institution that has until
now been loved by all (Jewish) Israelis: the army.
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