As supporters and family members of the soldier accused in last Thursday’s killing of a wounded terrorist continue to decry what they describe as a “witch-hunt” or “lynch”, an army spokesman responded to criticism on Sunday, rejecting claims the soldier was being persecuted.
Brigadier General Moti Almoz took to Facebook, writing that the ongoing IDF investigation of the soldier had only begun several days ago, and investigators were no rushing to judgment.
“We’re not investigating this so that we can feel pious about ourselves,” wrote Almoz, “we’re doing it for our own sake [the army’s].”
Almoz also rebuffed claims by supporters of the accused soldier that the investigation was an effort to placate leftwing interests or was a concession to international pressure.
“The incident isn’t being investigated because of B’Tselem or because of some international lynch [of Israel]; rather it’s for our own sake, our image, and our values.”
The leftwing NGO B’Tselem, which publicized a video of the incident, made the incident an international headline. However, a report from the initial inquiry revealed that the circumstances surrounding the shooting were already being assessed by army officials prior to the video’s publication.
Almoz also emphasized the distinction between the army’s quick response ending the terror attack, and the ethical issues created by a soldier taking matters into his own hands.
“In professional terms, we determined that the soldiers [in Hevron] acted appropriately [in dealing with the terror attack] and we praised them for quickly stopping the terrorists. In terms of [army] ethics, after the initial investigation by our officers, we’ve determined that there was a serious incident.”
“We don’t measure or make [our code of ethics] based on comments on the internet; rather [we set them] in the field, when it’s difficult, when it’s complicated, when things aren’t clear. Orders always need to be followed.”
The debate over the incident and the army’s response quickly spilled over into the Knesset, where nationalist MKs squared off against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon over their comments castigating the soldier’s actions. Almoz insisted that the soldier would receive a fair trial, and called for political leaders to leave the army outside of the political debate.
“We won’t abandon him, or [subject him] to a drumhead field trial, or [let him suffer] a lynch.”
“Let’s say it openly: We’re [the army] setting the norms here; this was a serious incident and we insist that the army remain above the political debate. What we will do is have a proper investigation, and that’s only begun, there’s no reason to decide the results already.”