On Thursday afternoon, two 14-year-old Palestinians went on a stabbing spree in a supermarket in Samaria (the West Bank), killing 21-year-old IDF sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman – a married father of a four-month-old baby, and moderately wounding another Israeli man.
Weissman, like the shoppers who subdued the terrorists with their shopping carts, was not on duty; he was simply at the store buying groceries for his family.
This kind of scenario has become a tragically familiar part of the Israeli landscape since the beginning of the current surge in Palestinian terrorism in September.
Though commonly referred to as the “knife intifada,” it is also characterized by the use of rocks, Molotov cocktails, guns and vehicles to murder Jews.
Because the average age of the terrorists is low, when they are neutralized (tackled, beaten or shot) – whether by members of the Border Police or armed civilians – the customary rumbling from abroad about Israel’s use of “excessive” or “disproportionate” force is always soon to follow.
As shameful as this double standard is in relation to the Jewish state in general and its response to life-threatening acts of aggression in particular, it is at least held by Israel’s ill-wishers. It is these propagandists that deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotevely and others have been working tirelessly and painstakingly to combat in the battlefield of ideas.
Imagine our dismay, then, when the top Israeli official commanding the actual war arena provides ammunition to the enemy.
This is precisely what IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has been doing. Shocking doesn’t begin to describe his repeated undermining of the ideological fight against Israel’s detractors.
On Wednesday, while addressing high school students in Bat Yam, Eisenkot said IDF soldiers should only use “necessary force” against terrorists. No big deal; this is the code the Israeli military always lives by – and those who violate it get court-martialed. Eisenkot knows this very well. Though he has only served in his current position for one year, he has a long military career under his belt.
“When there is a 13-year-old girl holding scissors or a knife, and there is a barrier between her and the soldiers, I wouldn’t want a soldier to open fire and empty a magazine into a girl like that, even if she commits a very serious act,” Eisenkot said. “We don’t operate on the basis of [Jewish] adages like, ‘If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.’ We don’t kill anyone with a pair of scissors. A soldier can switch off the safety and shoot if he or his comrades are in danger.” He then said, “If our rules of engagement were in any way unethical, it would jeopardize all of the IDF.”
Again, nothing at all new about that. So why say it as though up until now Israelis have not adhered to this principle, often at their own peril? Nor is this the first time Eisenkot has revealed his true political colors – the ones that have earned him respect in the pages of Haaretz and on the benches of left-wing Knesset parties. Not only has he come out against security measures, such as closures, curfews and demolitions of terrorists’ family homes, he has even paid respect to the far-left NGO Breaking the Silence – a group of former IDF soldiers and officers who go around the world accusing comrades of war crimes – by saying at a conference in Herzliya earlier this month that all of its claims are being taken seriously and investigated.
At that same February 9 conference, held in memory of one of his predecessors, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Eisenkot described a meeting he had with IDF commanders to discuss threat assessments. In this meeting, Eisenkot recounted, “I said the terrorism wave began due to three reasons: The change in the status quo at the Temple Mount, the decline in the stature of Arab leadership and a harsh economic reality [of the Palestinians].”
This lie, propagated by a Palestinian leadership that has been raising its children on Jew-hatred and a desire to destroy Israel, is more deadly than a Hezbollah missile or Hamas rocket. That the top brass of the Israeli army should repeat it as fact is horrifying.
There was no change in the status quo of the Temple Mount. Jews and Christians are still not allowed to pray there, while the Muslim Wakf continues to control the holy site. The Palestinians have been spreading the Temple Mount lie to rile up the masses to commit terrorism.
In one fell swoop, Eisenkot gave their fabricated gripe a stamp of legitimacy.
Eisenkot’s other claim, that it is “necessary to preserve the hope of the Palestinian population struggling to earn a living,” is equally dangerous. Not only does this mean that Israel – not the Palestinian Authority – is responsible for the plight of the residents of the PA, it buys into the blatant falsehood that economic woes cause terrorism.
Rather than slam Eisenkot for the harm he is doing, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon defended him on Thursday.
“We must not allow ourselves to become desensitized or to have itchy trigger fingers. We must not lose our morality and go mad because our blood is boiling,” he said. “We must be level-headed and calm and avoid harming innocent people or creating situations where our anger causes us to lose our moral compass in a way that would erode the righteousness of our path. We must uphold these values, as soldiers, police officers and human beings. To win and to remain human beings.”
Shame on both of them for implying that we have ever been or done otherwise. It is not our humanity that remains a question mark, but rather our ability to win with such people in charge of our national defense.
The author is the web editor of The Algemeiner (algemeiner.
com) and a columnist at Israel Hayom.
RIGHT FROM WRONG • By RUTHIE BLUM