Judging by the initial IDF response to the ghastly shooting of a Palestinian knife terrorist who had already been shot and was lying on his back, no longer posing a tangible threat to anyone, the soldier responsible for this grave breach of the rules of engagement will meet severe punishment in the military justice system.
The attacker, who together with a second terrorist repeatedly stabbed a soldier in Hebron on Thursday, had already been shot once – justifiably and in line with regulations – preventing him from continuing his mission to kill IDF personnel.
Then a soldier from the Kfir Brigade, standing a few meters away, as seen in a video released by B’Tselem, cocked his firearm and fired a single shot – without justification – at the downed attacker, in violation of IDF rules.
The disturbing images will doubtlessly circulate quickly on social media.
Well before the IDF received the video, the soldier’s commanders took swift and firm action. They held their own investigation, suspended the soldier on the spot, and delivered him to the Military Police, where he will be questioned.
Military sources stressed that no one in the IDF “waited for this video to emerge,” adding that regional battalion and brigade commanders concluded that a grave breach occurred, and acted.
The IDF, led by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, has been unequivocal in its instructions to soldiers, telling them that they are obligated to fire when threats to life exist, but that when the threat is gone, there cannot be any reason to continue firing.
For the most part, these messages have gotten through to soldiers, who are on the front lines every day, carrying out complex, difficult and draining security missions, often in the heart of hostile areas.
Military sources maintain that incidents such as Thursday’s shooting are rare, and must be vehemently rejected by all commanders.
Eisenkot recently angered sections of the political world by saying that there is no need for soldiers to “empty magazine clips on young girls with scissors,” yet he was merely reiterating the IDF rules of engagement, which call for a proportional response to the threat at hand.
The chief of staff felt the need to go on record and speak about the rules, sending a message to soldiers to ignore political feuds raging around them, and to conduct themselves professionally in every situation.
Although the military justice system has kicked into action, more immediate security ramifications of the shooting could materialize.
IDF Central Command is on alert for incidents or disturbances in the Hebron area, where Jewish communities are in the midst of Purim celebrations, as footage of the shooting spreads like wildfire – particularly via anti-Israel social media accounts