In a speech made on Thursday morning, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon backed statements made by the IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot yesterday, in which he said "the IDF cannot speak in slogans like 'when someone comes to kill you – kill him first.”
“I fully support what the Chief of Staff said with regards to the directives to opening fire. We cannot allow our emotions to dull and our fingers to become light on the trigger. We cannot allow ourselves to lose our humanity and go crazy because our blood is boiling,” Yaalon said, during a memorial ceremony for IDF commander Eitan Balhasan.
“We need to act with calm and discretion and avoid injuring the innocent. We must refrain from situations in which our anger causes us to lose our humanity and morality in a manner that will erode our justification.”
Yaalon worried about what would become of the soldiers if the IDF, in his words, loses its humanity. “Woe to us if we do not protect our own humanity, as soldiers, officers, and people. We need to win but also to continue to be humane.”
Eizenkot made his comments on Wednesday morning during a visit to Bat Yam, in which he defended the army's controversial open-fire orders and brushed off the teachings of the Jewish sages.
During his visit to the city's cultural center which was attended by high school students, he said, "the phenomenon of terror accompanies Israeli society throughout the years, and there also were knifings years ago. It could be in Tel Aviv, in Otniel or Ariel. We see mutual influence between what happens in the Middle East with Daesh (ISIS) and what happens for us here (in Israel)."
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) on Wednesday evening asked Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon to summon IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to a meeting, following the statement.
"This is a flagrant and contemptuous statement. The Jewish principles and values are the foundation on which the State of Israel was built and upon which the IDF relies.
"The disregard for the sanctity of Israel and the values that accompanied our people for thousands of years is neither appropriate nor compatible with the values of the IDF and of the behavior expected of a senior officer,” wrote Smotrich, who demanded that Eizenkot retract his statement.
Eitan Balhasan, in whose honor the ceremony was being held, was the commander of an IDF commando unit who, with two other officers, was killed in a clash with Hezbollah in the security zone in southern Lebanon in February 1999.