View Full Version : Israeli Soldiers Given Permission To Kill Its' Own Civilians

07-12-2005, 06:35 PM
IDF: Troops can fire on pullout foes as last resort


By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent

A team headed by an Israel Defense Forces major general recently put together a document that can be defined as the army's "code of ethics" for the disengagement.

Among other things, the team recommends that security forces be allowed to open fire on evacuation opponents who endanger the lives of the soldiers and police only when "all else has failed."

The document also deals with the handling of refusals to obey orders and justification for the IDF's participation in the pullout operation.

The document was compiled by a team headed by Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven, the commander of the military colleges. It included Prof. Asher Kasher of Tel Aviv University and Major General (res.) Haim Erez, among others. Some 10 years ago, Kasher put together a code of ethics for the IDF.

Some two years ago, Haaretz published the main points of an article written by Kasher and the former commander of the military colleges, Major General Amos Yadlin (soon to be named head of Military Intelligence), focusing on "the moral fight against terror." The article presented ethical considerations in favor of the policy of assassinations on terror activists.

Kasher told Haaretz Monday that the new document is aimed at giving senior commanders "tools for providing clear and convincing responses" to questions asked of them by their subordinates on the pullout plan. According to Kasher, the standard explanations that commanders give to their soldiers refer to combat against terror or a hostile army, whereas the IDF's role vis-a-vis the disengagement is more complex and thus requires a different approach.

The document was presented recently to Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, as well as division commanders and senior officers whose units will be playing a part in the pullout.

The following are some of the main issues covered in the document:

* Justification for IDF activity in the framework of the disengagement: The authors of the document determine that "commanders and soldiers do not have to identify with government decisions that reflect its policy. ... The army's preparations ahead of the implementation of the disengagement plan are being carried out based on the assumption that the government decision is legitimate. ... Reason dictates that the military advocate general or attorney general would have prevented these preparations were they to believe that the decision is illegitimate. ... Military tasks in the framework of the disengagement will be carried out in keeping with IDF values."

The tasks, the document says, "will not be tasks in the face of an enemy, or for the purpose of saving lives in face of immediate danger."

Implementation of the disengagement plan, it continues, "must be done without bloodshed. The soldiers and police will return safely to their bases. Civilians who refuse to evacuate as required will be evacuated safely."

* The use of force in the event of life-threatening situations: The document stipulates that soldiers whose lives are endangered by pullout opponents must respond in the same manner in which police respond when under similar threat from criminals. The rules of engagement, the document says, "will not be those of a soldier in war against an enemy."

According to the document, a policeman opens fire on a criminal "only when he has no alternative, when all else has failed, when it is impossible to defend himself in any other way."

The soldiers, the document states, will act in a "cautious, moderate and patient" manner; they will not storm individuals holed up with weapons, but will "operate in a restrained and responsible manner."

Decisions under such circumstances will be made by senior commanders, the document says.

* Should the IDF be participating in the evacuation? The authors of the document reply in the affirmative, noting that the IDF has been the sovereign power in the territories since they were occupied by Israel in 1967, and therefore every military operation carried out in the territories is the army's responsibility.

The authors of the document add, nevertheless, that the Israel Police is the appropriate entity for dealing with citizens of the state and specializes in effectively handling civilians who break the law. If the police are unable to evacuate all the residents of a settlement on their own, the IDF must help, the document says.

The IDF assistance will be given with "the precise and restrained use of force," the authors write.

* Army and politics: The IDF is not party to any political dispute; it is a state organization under the authority of the government, the document notes. A commander may not voice or allude to solidarity with any particular political position.

* Problems of conscience among soldiers: The authors of the document recommend that when a soldier requests an exemption, in part or in full, from disengagement missions, his commander must demand a detailed reason for the request. Soldiers should not be exempted based on their personal opposition to the pullout, the document stipulates, adding that a soldier has a civilian right to formulate an opinion against the pullout, but as a soldier he is bound to carry out the tasks imposed upon him.

As expected, the authors of the document adamantly reject any refusal to obey orders in the framework of the IDF's participation in the pullout. The refusenik, the document says, is not worthy of serving in a military unit in which mutual trust is a central factor in the ability to fight. A refusenik cannot be trusted and any declaration of refusal requires an immediate response from a soldier's superiors, the document notes.