Palestinians Take Weapon from IDF Soldier in Guard
Something is rotten in the state of Israel
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Before describing the peculiarity of this event, I must be fair. This is far from being the first time that Palestinians took weapons from IDF soldiers. On average between 100 and 150 weapons are stolen every year, mostly from soldiers traveling to their homes for the weekend. For this reason, last year, the IDF substantially lowered the number of soldiers that went home with weapons. Still, 80 weapons were stolen in 2011. The current event has been defined by IDF commanders as "serious," and as a "terrorist act." These definitions carry operational consequences.
A brigadier general is brought to the scene of the crime
It is one thing to rob a weapon from a lonely soldier walking alone through a deserted alley on his way home; a very different thing is stealing a weapon from a soldier on duty. One doesn't need to be a general in order to understand that the latter is a grave event, and I refer to both meanings of the word. Once the peripheral security of a military base is broken, disasters may easily develop. After entering, the intruders could have had access to weapon depots, activated military equipment, kidnapped and killed soldiers. This is just the shortlist. After the soldier reported the incident, Brigadier General Hagai Mordechai, commander of the West Bank Division (Ugdat Ezor Yehuda VeShomron, the same commander featured in IDF Open-Fire Regulations Backfire), was hurried to the base and an investigation began. One of its main goals is to establish whether the soldier had been properly instructed before his shift. This will determine if the soldier alone is to be punished, or if his officers will also be jailed. Meanwhile, the soldier has been detained on the base.
The other issue being investigated is why the soldier didn't use his weapon. Open-Fire regulations are a bit sketchy in the IDF, but there is no doubt than when an armed soldier is in danger of being killed, he has the right to defend himself using his weapon. He would have been acquitted by any martial court. Moreover, he could have reacted more humanely, by shooting the arms or legs of the attackers instead of killing them. No military regulations allow handing weapons to attackers.
* "al" is the Arabic article; it is transliterated in a variety of ways depending on various factors, sometimes as "el." a-Ram is also spelled out in Latin letters as al-Ram, and even ar-Ram. The actual sound is closer to what English speakers will hear like ah-ram.
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