Author of IDF ethics code comes out against ignoring provocations

“What we saw is seemingly not the best professional way of solving the problem.”

A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli army soldiers as she is searched at a checkpoint during clashes in the West Bank Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli army soldiers as she is searched at a checkpoint during clashes in the West Bank Al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron
Prof. Asa Kasher, the author of the Israeli military’s ethics code, has come out against the actions of an IDF officer and soldier filmed on camera being slapped and kicked by two Palestinian women on Friday.
“What we saw is seemingly not the best professional way of solving the problem,” Kasher told The Jerusalem Post about the incident that took place in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. “Because when people interfere with the activities of military troops, the behavior should be stopped, it cannot be ignored.
“Within a few minutes the situation should have included female Border Police officers who should have arrested the girls and not just allow them to continue,” Kasher said, adding that IDF brigades in the West Bank do not have any female soldiers who could have dealt with the situation.
“The women interfered in their military activity, undoubtedly, and that was a problem that had to be solved, effectively, and in accordance to IDF values.”
According to Kasher, many missions performed by people in uniform in the West Bank should be performed by police, who don’t have to use the same amount of restraint as IDF troops do.
“When people interfere with police missions they are treated differently. And while I’m not recommending using methods like the police in the United States, but maybe look at the Canadian or British officers,” he said.
The incident occurred on Friday, where some 2,000 Palestinians rioted against IDF troops throughout the West Bank and on the Gaza border over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Prominent Palestinian teenage activist Ahed Tamimi and her cousin Nur were seen slapping soldiers outside her family home, in a viral video that has sparked fierce debate over the actions of the soldiers.
The soldiers, according to the military, were trying to keep rioters out of the Tamimi home from where rocks were being thrown.
“The code of ethics of the IDF includes a number of values, and we must evaluate the behavior of those in uniform as per those values,” Kasher said, adding that the IDF values that should be considered in this incident are perseverance and purity of arms, which both the officer and soldier acted in accordance with.
The troops, he said, “aren’t walking around to see the view, they are on a mission and they needed to accomplish it. They didn’t leave when they were attacked, they had a mission and they accomplished it.” They also acted in accordance to the value of purity of arms, “which was not easy under those circumstances.”
The IDF Central Command has opened an investigation into the incident, and the two troops involved have since returned to operational duty after getting the full backing of their superior officers over their conduct.
The initial investigation, conducted by the IDF’s Rotem Battalion, found that the battalion commander himself had arrived at the family’s home to keep rioters out and acted professionally to avoid being dragged into a violent confrontation with Palestinians in the area.
“The commander of the force, using mandated operational discretion, acted professionally by not being dragged into violence, but also acted within operational guidelines when he decided to arrest the Palestinian Arabs at the scene because they used physical violence and because they tried to prevent the soldiers from carrying out their mission,” read the IDF statement.
The behavior of troops in the video, a captain and an enlisted man has been praised by many in the defense establishment, with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman backing the troops and warning that the Tamimi family will face the justice system.
“Anyone who watched the incident understands that the IDF is a moral and ethical army,” he said while lighting the eighth Hanukka candle alongside troops from the Marom Brigade at the IDF anti-terrorism school in the West Bank.
“I back all soldiers. No soldier is a computer, and no one knows how to make the right decision every second, so I give my support to both [Hebron shooter] Elazar Azaria and the soldiers from the incident which was filmed,” the minister said.
Earlier in the day, Liberman said that the soldiers “acted in accordance with the directives and protocols. If something was wrong, it will be fixed. We will not allow any attack on soldiers or officers.”
“Anyone who riots during the day is arrested at night. Anyone who was part of the circle, not only the girl but also her parents, won’t escape what they have coming to them,” he warned.
Tamimi was arrested in a raid before dawn on Tuesday by the army and Border Police.
Her mother, Nariman, was detained several hours later when she went to visit Ahed in jail, and Nur was arrested on Wednesday morning.
They are all under investigation on suspicion of “attacking the IDF soldiers and incitement,” and will be held until Thursday, the army said.