(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The soldier in Hebron who shot a Palestinian terrorist in the head Thursday made a grave error and grossly violated the IDF code of ethics, Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, a former IDF major-general, said at a briefing for the foreign press Monday in Jerusalem.
Stern spoke at Media Central, a Jerusalem- based NGO that provides support services for journalists based in or visiting Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the region. English copies of the army’s ethics code, The Spirit of the IDF, were distributed to the reporters at the event.
“We want to preserve our status as having the highest morality of militaries around the world, but we can’t say we don’t make mistakes, and what happened Thursday was a huge mistake,” said Stern, who will be speaking at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on May 22.
Stern said that in his military career, he faced moral dilemmas when the IDF’s values clashed with accomplishing a mission. For instance, there were questions of endangering soldiers to save the lives of both Palestinian and Israel civilians.
But he said that in Hebron, there was no such challenge because the incident was over and the terrorist who had stabbed a soldier did not pose a danger. He said the IDF handled the situation well by immediately detaining the soldier and probing the incident.
“An officer’s responsibility is to enhance the moral behavior of his soldiers,” he said. “The fast reaction of the IDF chief of staff made me proud to be an IDF officer.”
But Stern said he told a commander involved in the incident that he did not like it that the IDF was officially accusing the soldier of murder. He said the commander told him that the most serious possible crime must be listed, but that he opposed the commander’s decision.
Besides the shooting incident itself, Stern said he was disturbed by the fact that the wounded soldier was removed from the scene in an ambulance while the wounded terrorist remained on the ground unattended to. He said both should have been taken to the hospital.
“It’s against my Jewish ethics that the ambulance left and the terrorist was still there,” he said. “After the attack was finished, whether it succeeded or not, that’s not our way.”
Stern was IDF OC Human Resources from 2004 to 2008, and the head Youth and Education Officer of the IDF from 1999 to 2004.