Last week, the Israeli public was shocked by video footage showing an Israeli soldier shooting a subdued and wounded Palestinian terrorist in the head. Although the man had just carried out a knife attack, he was subdued and did not appear to pose any threat, and the shooting occurred some time after the actual attack. The footage, filmed by an activist with NIF grantee B’Tselem, has led to a fierce debate in Israel about the IDF’s rules of engagement, with many right-wing politicians loudly criticizing the IDF for arresting the soldier and investigating the shooting.
NIF President Talia Sasson explained the context of the footage, including the increasingly inflammatory remarks from right-wing politicians: “The soldier in Hebron exposed the bitter debate that’s taking place here…For months we heard the mantra that anyone who comes to do harm won’t come out alive…The soldier did what he heard on the radio. He ignored his commanders, and listened to the politicians…The only benefit to be drawn from what he did is the debate. Because the open and bitter debate is our last hope to prevent the next execution.”
In a statement, B’Tselem said: “The law is clear: shooting to kill is only permitted when the person is endangering the lives of others. Once the danger is over, he or she must not be harmed. Extrajudicial street killings are the direct consequence of inflammatory remarks made by Israeli ministers and officials, augmented by the general public atmosphere of dehumanization…The message to the Israeli public is undeniable: attempting to injure a civilian or a soldier is a death sentence.”
Meanwhile, while some Israelis have led public demonstrations of support for the soldier. NIF grantees like Zazim – Community Action have been counter-campaigning. According to Zazim, protesting the IDF’s current rules of engagement (which prohibit the shooting of disarmed adversaries) “legitimizes the illegitimate killing of people who aren’t a threat.”