IDF to release new 'moral guidelines' for soldiers in West Bank

Document is said to be a result of studying the interrogations of Palestinians who had carried out attacks against Israelis and had claimed they had been motivated by revenge.

November 21, 2016 13:51
2 minute read.
IDF soldiers take up positions during clashes with Palestinian youths in Nablus

IDF soldiers in the West Bank [File]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The IDF is in the final stages of developing a document that will instruct soldiers serving in the West Bank how to better prepare themselves for ethical dilemmas.

Set to be released in the coming weeks, the document is said to be a result of studying the interrogations of Palestinians who had carried out attacks and had claimed they had been motivated by revenge against IDF troops who they accused of treating them, their friends or family in an unfair manner at checkpoints.

According to a senior IDF official, the new guidelines have nothing to do with the trial of Sgt. Elor Azaria, who is facing manslaughter charges for shooting Palestinian Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in the head.

Written by Efraim Brigade Commander Col. Roi Sheetrit under the order of West Bank Division Commander Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, it outlines to soldiers how to properly conduct arrests, including how to best enter and search the homes of Palestinian suspects and their families, as well as how to properly treat Palestinian detainees.

According to a senior IDF officer, “These are the things that soldiers don’t learn during their training.

Even outstanding soldiers can sometimes get out of line during events that are morally problematic.

It’s not always bullying, it’s simply that sometimes they are unable to properly assess a situation.

“When a battalion arrives in a village, I want the soldiers to be able to connect with the Palestinian residents and know how to properly behave with them.”Border Police confiscate Palestinian girl's bike

The IDF said the number of “problematic” events was relatively small, but Central Command said it believes they should all be prevented.

One such incident, captured on camera by the human rights group B’Tselem, showed a border policeman in Hebron in conflict with an eight-year-old Palestinian girl. A second policeman threw her bicycle in the bushes.

Questioned under caution by the Justice Ministry, the second officer was suspended from duty.

While the lawyers of the two border policemen say they were trying to protect and prevent her from crossing into the Jewish Quarter of the city, it was cited in the new document by the IDF as one of the ethically “problematic” case studies.

Another case cited in the document was that of two soldiers in the Nahal Brigade who were recently convicted of setting fire to a Palestinian’s woodshed in Nablus.

The soldiers confessed and took full responsibility for their actions, telling investigators they had acted impulsively, out of boredom and on the spur of the moment.

“I sullied the honor of the army, my brigade, even, one could say, of the state. It was a mistake and if I’d thought about it a little, I wouldn’t have done it. We understand that we behaved like idiots,” said one of the soldiers, adding, “We’re both sorry. I clearly harmed somebody’s livelihood.”

The IDF said soldiers, especially those who have not yet been stationed in areas where there is daily friction with Palestinians, must have additional ethical training.

According to the senior IDF officer, the document will “give soldiers the tools to deal with delicate situations. The document not only provides guidelines on the rules of engagement, but also guidelines for how to respectfully treat other human beings in a professional manner.”

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