IDF chief reiterates rules of engagement as military trial of Hebron soldier begins

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot will distribute a special letter to soldiers underscoring the rules of engagement and the IDF’s values, in the wake of last week’s controversial shooting of a wounded Palestinian terrorist in Hebron.

The assailant stabbed two Israeli soldiers before being shot and incapacitated. Video footage from the Israeli human rights group B’tselem shows a soldier several minutes later opening fire and killing the wounded Palestinian. Hebron has been a focal point during the wave of attacks by Palestinians, which have killed at least 31 Israelis since October.

The incident has sparked intense public debate. It has seen the soldier condemned by many for unnecessarily killing the terrorist. However, others have defended his actions, saying that the attacker could have been armed with explosives. Politicians have sharply clashed on the issue. Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon has defended the arrest and condemned Jewish Home leader, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett for appearing to encourage support for the soldier.

Amid the controversy, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot is authoring a special letter to troops, in which he will clarify the standing rules of engagement and highlight the importance of maintaining the IDF’s ethics and values. Last month, Eizenkot publicly called for soldiers to exercise greater judgement before opening fire, condemning the attitude that “anyone holding a knife or a pair of scissors must be killed.”

Meanwhile, several hundred protested outside the Kastina military court yesterday as the trial of the accused soldier got underway. The prosecution was granted an extra two days to build its case. Prosecutor Lieutenant Colonel Adoram Rigler told the court that “the shooting was carried out intentionally and without need,” while the defence argued that the terrorist may have had an explosive device. Yediot Ahronot says that the accused is unlikely to be charged with murder, rather manslaughter but that much will depend on the autopsy which will determine whether the shots fired were definitively responsible for the terrorist’s death.

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