The founder and director of the NGO Our Soldiers Speak, Sgt. Benjamin Anthony (IDF Res.), a veteran of the 2006 Lebanon War, has condemned the radical Israeli left for depriving Israeli soldiers of even the “most basic means” of self-defense.
Anthony, who established Our Soldiers Speak in 2007, which specializes in bringing IDF soldiers, officers and generals to the campuses and communities of the English-speaking world, told Tazpit that a soldier’s position should never be compromised.
A viral video which showed an Israeli soldier being surrounded and attacked by women and children in the village of Nabi Saleh, while attempting to apprehend a boy who had been throwing rocks, renewed the debate on defensive measures permissible to soldiers.
Unaware of the potential threats approaching him from behind, the soldier did not seek to defend himself despite the fact that he was armed with a machine gun.
With the women and children seemingly unintimidated by the soldier’s ability to fire, the soldier absorbed a series of blows while frantically calling for support from a colleague in the distance.
Describing the occurrence as “disgraceful,” Interior Minister Miri Regev argued in the Knesset that “we must immediately order that a soldier under attack be able to return fire. Period.”
However, other observers with prior experience in the field have opined that situations such as these need not reach the point that they require fire.
“No soldier should ever be in a position where he is surrounded with a machine gun over his shoulders and somebody gets within arm’s length of him,” Anthony told Tazpit.
Anthony went on to lambast the Israeli left, attributing much responsibility to them for such incidents. “The left is so deeply entrenched in these efforts to undermine the activities of the IDF. They would say ‘we want to protect Palestinian rights’ but in that video they are clearly willing to place an Israeli soldier’s life in mortal danger.”
He added that “it would have only taken one man or woman to turn brave, for the soldier to be in a situation where his machine gun is taken off him and he is led off to who knows where. And this is with Israeli activists in the middle of it all. You can’t have that. Israelis need to be held to account.”
Anthony further mentioned the incident in 2012 in which Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner was filmed launching his gun into the face of Andreas Ayas, a Danish protester, sparking international condemnation. “He was then indicted, had his opportunities to advance in the Israeli army totally curtailed permanently and was criticized in the Israeli press. Now you have a situation where soldiers are not willing to defend themselves even with the most basic means of self defense,” Anthony pointed out.
“So we have these situations where several women are within arms’ length of a soldier with a machine gun. They could easily have taken it off him or fired it while it was on him. That cannot happen,” he concluded.