Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan has proposed a bill that would grant IDF soldiers blanket immunity from any criminal prosecution for their actions in the field.
The proposed bill came just days after Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter in the killing of a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron last year.
According to the bill, security forces shall not “bear criminal responsibility, nor be interrogated with a warning and will be immune from any legal proceedings due to actions they carried out or refrained from carrying out, and all before, after, and during an operational activity or terrorist attack that was not part of the day-to-day operational activities of the unit in which he/she works or serves.”
The proposed bill would extend the current immunity already granted to soldiers for actions that occurred while taking part in security operations, to their actions before and after an operation.
But it also has a mechanism to strip the immunity of a soldier if he abuses the mandate.
IDF soldier shoots dead subdued Palestinian terrorist in Hebron, part of Elor Azaria case
Any soldier accused of looting, destruction of property, accepting bribes, bullying or sexual offenses would not be immune to criminal prosecution.
According to the bill, a soldier’s immunity could be repealed if the soldier “acted in bad faith or caused damage to property or body without any necessity.”
According to a statement given to The Jerusalem Post, Ben-Dahan said that “the law sends a clear message to IDF soldiers that just as they protect us, we are protecting them. The law allows IDF soldiers to perform their duties in defending the State of Israel fearlessly and with no concern” of potential criminal prosecution, while providing a stipulation which allows for the removal of the immunity if violations of the rules occur.
“In recent years we have seen too many soldiers and commanders suffer from a delay of justice, with long trials, and then finally be acquitted,” Ben-Dahan said, adding that this occurred “just because there are no clear legal or ethical statements that we are protecting them while they carry out their duties. As someone who served as a major in the army, I’m sure it will help our soldiers. I have no doubt that MKs will support the law.”