JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s defense minister backed statements by the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff on exercising military restraint in the West Bank.
“We’ve been fighting for our national home for many years. We need a skilled force to deal with our enemies, but we must maintain our values,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Thursday in public remarks at a college in Israel’s North. “We can’t allow our senses to get dull and our finger to be quick on the trigger. We need to know how to win and still remain human.”
Yaalon was responding to a statement the previous day by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at a high school in Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv. Eisenkot was responding to a student’s question about soft rules of engagement.
“The IDF cannot speak in slogans, such as ‘if someone comes to kill you, arise to kill them first,’ or ‘everyone who carries scissors should be killed,'” Eisenkot said. “I don’t want a soldier to empty a magazine on a girl with scissors.”
Eisenkot came under fire from right-wing lawmakers for the remarks calling for restraint. He also reportedly angered senior police officials.
The Shin Bet security service reported earlier this week that about half of Palestinian assailants in the current wave of terrorism that began at the end of September are under the age of 20, and as young as 13.