Appointed IDF chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
(photo credit: HEMED ELMAKAT)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Thursday backed IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot’s controversial call on soldiers to exercise restraint and avoid killing those carrying out terrorist attacks when possible.
Speaking at a leadership conference in the North’s Tel-Hai Academic College, Ya’alon said it was wrong for soldiers to be too quick to pull the trigger.
“It is forbidden for us to forget our humanity and get out of control just because our blood boils,” Ya’alon said. “We must act with cool-headedness and good judgment and avoid harming civilians. We can win while remaining human beings.”
When asked by a student about the proper response to attacks similar to those seen during the past few months, the army chief replied: “The IDF doesn’t need to get swept up in clichéd statements like ‘Kill or be killed,’ or, ‘Whoever comes at you with scissors needs to be killed.’” On Wednesday, Eisenkot was asked by a student at a meeting of soon-to-be conscripts at a high school in Bat Yam about the proper response to the attacks against Israelis witnessed over the past months.
“The tools that are at the soldiers’ disposal are sufficient,” the chief of staff said. “I don’t want to see a soldier empty a magazine [to shoot] a young girl with scissors.”
Right-wing politicians blasted Ya’alon and Eisenkot. Transportation Minister Israel Katz (Likud) wrote on Facebook that he hoped the general’s statement would not result in hesitancy in responding to terrorism that could endanger people.
“Sometimes a message speaks out louder than words,” Katz wrote. “The limits and the codes are clear, but terrorists must not be allowed to remain alive and endanger Jewish lives.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev said killing rather than allowing oneself to be killed was not a slogan but a key concept in Jewish ethics. He said reliance on Jewish tradition was what helped make the IDF the world’s most moral army.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Eisenkot harmed Israeli public diplomacy.
She said Israel has been fighting wrong impressions around the world that Israel was responding to terrorist attacks with excessive force, and Eisenkot’s comments did not help that fight.
“No one is using excessive force, so the reality [Eisenkot] described has never happened,” she told Channel 2.
“There has never been an IDF soldier who emptied his magazine on a 12-year-old girl.”
Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit said it was Hotovely, not Eisenkot, who was harming Israeli public diplomacy, due to her extremist statements.
He called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to restrain right-wing MKs in his coalition from attacking the IDF chief of staff.
The IDF told Channel 10 in response to the attacks on Eisenkot that rules for opening fire would not be decided by “politicians acting like the lowest [Internet] talkbacker.”