IDF issues new ethics guide for troops in West Bank

Booklet will be distributed to every combat officer and is part of effort to minimize friction with civilian population during military operations.

December 10, 2010 05:21
1 minute read.
IDF soldiers and Palestinians (file).

Soldiers guard prisoners 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The IDF Education Corps has drafted a new booklet aimed at helping commanders prepare troops for the moral and ethical dilemmas they might encounter during operations in the West Bank.

The booklet is meant to prevent a repeat of incidents like the one in Dahariya, 23 km. southwest of Hebron, in 2007, when a platoon commander kidnapped a Palestinian taxi driver and shot another Palestinian.

Another incident involved a battalion commander who ordered a soldier to fire a rubber bullet at point-blank range at a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian who had been detained for demonstrating against construction of the security barrier near Ni’lin.

The booklet provides commanders with a list of challenges they could encounter during operations in the West Bank, including manning checkpoints and guarding Palestinians who are apprehended during routine arrest operations.

While the booklet does not refer to the Gaza Strip, it does mention, for example, the crime of looting, of which two soldiers were convicted last year following Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

The booklet defines the crime and even details the potential punishment, information that commanders can use to warn their soldiers before they embark on operations within civilian population centers.

“The booklet explains the significance behind the military’s code of ethics,” explained Lt.-Col. Nurit Kotick from the Education Corps. “This is meant to help commanders not make mistakes when their soldiers man checkpoints or, for example, guard suspected terrorists.”

The booklet will be distributed to every combat officer throughout the military and is part of an overall Israeli effort to minimize friction with the civilian population during West Bank operations.

In 2009, for example, the IDF decided that every unit, before being deployed in the West Bank, would undergo mental preparation for the challenges they would face when operating among Palestinian civilians.

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