In light of the ongoing controversy over the shooting of an incapacitated terrorist in Hebron last week, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot on Wednesday sent an open letter to troops to clarify the IDF’s rules of engagement.
The letter elaborates on the proper procedures to follow when confronting terrorists, the IDF’s Code of Ethics, and the need to keep politics out of the military.
“IDF commanders, including myself, will continue to back every soldier who makes an error in the heat of the moment while fighting the enemy,” Eizenkot wrote. “But we will not waver when it comes to holding soldiers accountable when they deviate from the operational and moral norms we uphold.”
“Adherence to the spirit of the IDF and its values is not a right, it is a duty, if we are to preserve the status of the IDF as the people’s army in a Jewish and democratic state,” he added. “Every time, and in every situation, we must conduct ourselves professionally while exerting focused and calculated force in order to fulfill our duty and remain true to our values.”
On Tuesday, the suspect in the shooting arrived at a military court for his latest remand hearing. The military advocate general said the soldier’s life had not been threatened during the incident and that he contradicted himself during his interrogation. But the presiding judge, Lt. Col. Ronen Shor, said the evidence was inconclusive.
“This is a complicated case that requires a thorough and extensive investigation,” Shor said. “Even though there is a reasonable suspicion that the shooting was improper, given the circumstances, the evidence gathered thus far points in two different directions as to the key aspects of the controversy.”