Golani 51 commander: Death before capture

IDF won't charge commander who told troops to kill themselves in case of being caught in Gaza.

golani 248.88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
golani 248.88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
The IDF does not plan to bring disciplinary charges against a battalion commander from the Golani Brigade who told his soldiers that they needed to do everything possible to prevent being kidnapped during the recent operation in Gaza including blowing themselves up with a grenade. In a tape recording of a briefing the commander of Battalion 51 gave his soldiers before entering Gaza during Operation Cast Lead the senior officer was heard saying: "Hamas's strategic weapon is to kidnap a soldier and I don't have to tell you but no soldier from Battalion 51 gets kidnapped at any price and under any situation even if it means that he has to blow up his grenade together with those who are trying to kidnap him." "We are going to explain to the Palestinian enemies what it means to mess with Israel. It is important that you understand we are going into a war. The coiled spring of Battalion 51 is going to pop in the face of these Palestinians," he is heard saying in the recording. Military sources who heard the entire recording of the briefing, part of which was aired on Channel 10, said Monday that it was clear that the officer did not mean that soldiers should commit suicide but that he was trying to motivate them before they entered the Gaza Strip. The IDF was however looking into how a recording of the briefing was leaked to Channel 10. "In the name of these values we fight, and in their name we shall win," 51's commander is heard telling the men at the end of the recording. One source said, "It was clearly a pep talk and the officer has received the IDF's full support… What he said was not mean to be taken literally." During Operation Cast Lead, Hamas tried kidnapping soldiers on a number of occasions. In one case, a soldier from an Engineering Corps unit fought face-to-face with two Hamas gunmen who tried pulling him into a tunnel. In another case, a group of soldiers were injured in a booby-trapped home and another unit stormed the building after there was a tunnel inside that Hamas planned to use to kidnap some of the wounded soldiers. The commander of Battalion 51, who cannot be identified due to IDF restrictions on officers who participated in the operation, is a respected officer who served in several command posts in Golani's elite Egoz Unit. Following the Second Lebanon War, the officer, who is religious, became deputy head of the battalion and replaced Maj. Roi Klein, who was killed in Bint Jbail after he jumped on a grenade that was thrown into a home where he was together with several soldiers, saving their lives.