Bennett defends Eisenkot following criticism from Right

Herzog: PM should come out against those slamming IDF chief; Stop politicizing the army, Lapid says

Education Minister Naftali Bennett announces small classroom reform (photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett announces small classroom reform
(photo credit: SASSON TIRAM)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot merely repeated the rules of engagement in saying that soldiers shouldn’t shoot teenagers attacking them with scissors, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Saturday, taking an opposite tack from several other politicians on the Right.
“I support [Eisenkot’s] statement that soldiers need to strike those who endanger lives and not those who don’t endanger lives,” Bennett told Channel 2’s Meet the Press program.
According to Bennett, Eisenkot’s critic’s misunderstood him: “He was repeating the rules of engagement; you open fire if someone is putting your life or that of the people around you in danger.”
Bennett also called IDF soldiers “the most moral fighters in the world” and commended Israeli civilians who have helped subdue terrorists.
Last week, Eisenkot spoke to a group of soon-to-be conscripts at a high school in Bat Yam, and told them: “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.’ The tools at the soldiers’ disposal are sufficient. I don’t want to see a soldier empty a magazine [to shoot] a young girl with scissors.”
Soon afterward, several politicians from the Likud and from Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party came out against Eisenkot’s statement.
In the Likud, Transportation Minister Israel Katz said he hoped the general’s statement wouldn’t result in hesitancy in responding to terrorism, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Eisenkot harmed Israel’s public diplomacy by reinforcing false impressions that Israel responds to terrorist attacks with excessive force.
In Bayit Yehudi, MKs Moti Yogev and Bezalel Smotrich quoted Jewish sages who said, “If one approaches to kill you, rise up and kill him.” They both said the phrase is not just a slogan, but a moral imperative in Judaism.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) criticized those who panned Eisenkot, saying on Saturday night that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “abandoned the chief of staff to messianists on the extreme Right.”
Herzog called on Netanyahu to support Eisenkot instead of letting coalition politicians abuse him.
“This is an unthinkable act.The prime minister must stop it... he is letting them sow hate and divisiveness in the nation and degrade the IDF,” Herzog said.
He added that the IDF should be above politics, because it is “everyone’s army.”
Similarly, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said “we must fully back security forces, their work and the rules of engagement.
“Attacking the chief of staff means attacking the IDF,” he said. “We cannot allow the chief of staff and IDF be attacked and politicize the IDF. It cannot be.
The ministers who criticized him should be ashamed.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On also criticized Netanyahu for not distancing himself from those who chastised Eisenkot, saying that his silence shows he agrees with them.
“There is no doubt that the lone-wolf terrorism of recent months is terrible, horrible and appalling. A soldier must ‘neutralize’ the young girl with scissors so she will stay alive, and the next step will be to put her on trial and punish her according to Israel’s laws,” she said.