On Tuesday, 20-year old Amit Ben Yigal was killed by an Arab terrorist after the latter dropped a bolder on his head from an elevated location. Ben Yigal’s helmet was of no help as the impact was strong enough to cause traumatic brain injury forcing the Ramat Gan native to succumb to his wounds at Rambam hospital.
This tragic attack is awfully reminiscent of one that happened almost exactly two years prior. That’s when Ronen Lubarsky was operating near Ramallah and a massive slab was also dropped on his head killing the special forces commando after two days of suffering.
As the expression goes: ‘Fool me once, sham on you. Fool me twice shame on me.’
At this point, Naftali Bennett has several days left at his post as defense minister. If he wants to show that he is right-wing, before fading into the invisibility of the opposition, now is the time. He can salvage his political career by unequivocally ordering all troops to shoot to kill anyone throwing stones at them – no matter the size of the stone, its distance or velocity.
Disappointingly, Bennett gave some vague generic threat about finding the perpetrators and “settling the score” with them. This could easily translate into a few years in prison, a salary from the Palestinian Authority and eventual release in another Gilad Shalit-esque deal.
By not clarifying open fire orders, Bennett and the upper echelon of the IDF have condemned the next Amit Ben Yigal to his death. It’s no longer a matter of if but when.
9 months or six feet under
Unfortunately, the soldiers can’t do anything about it because their orders forbid them from killing those dropping blocks at them. After all, no one in the IDF wants to end up like Elor Azariya – the iconic IDF soldier who was sentenced to 9 months in prison for killing a terrorist. Unfortunately, in many circumstances, if they don’t want to end up like Azariya, their only other option is to end up like Amit Ben Yigal.
But what is the IDF soldiers defied orders and killed rock throwers? Now I know that many would argue that following orders is sacrosanct and if defying orders becomes legitimized, the IDF will tailspin into chaos.
So here’s the bad news
The IDF has already tail-spun into chaos. The fact that the Israeli army prioritizes the lives of terrorists over those of it’s own soldiers, as Benny Gantz proudly stated when he was chief of staff, shows that the more Israel’s soldiers follow orders, the more chaotic the army really is. There can not be order in an army where the foot soldiers don’t trust the judgement of their superiors – especially when it comes to their own safety.
Think about it – if the army in 1948 was operating under the same restrictions that they operate under today, there would be no Israel. Furthermore, an army who prioritizes the lives of its enemies over those of it’s own warriors wouldn’t last a day if they ever had to fight against Iran. And if you disagree with that assessment, just look at how many times the IDF waged operations into Gaza yet couldn’t topple a terror organization who shoots homemade rockets off of pickup truck beds.
The only way for the IDF to be saved from itself is if a few brave soldiers activate some common sense and do what they know needs to be done to protect themselves – even at the expense of going to jail. Elor Azaria should be regarded as a hero that inspires all IDF troops who realize that if they don’t start using common sense, they will be the next Ben Yigal.
And we, as their fathers, mothers, siblings and community members must encourage the soldiers we know and love to shoot first and ask questions later. And if encouraging soldiers to violate orders makes you uncomfortable, just ask yourself the following question – Who would you rather visit – the soldier in jail or his mother at her son’s shiva?