Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

IDF Fighting Public Perception That Soldiers Are Trigger-happy

May 4, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Israel Defense Force is fighting back against charges by the public that soldiers patrolling the administered territories are too quick on the trigger.

The IDF chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, briefed the Cabinet on the subject Sunday. He said that contrary to allegations, there has been no relaxation of the rules governing the circumstances in which a soldier may open fire on security offenders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He said the restrictions are unchanged even though there has been a huge increase in the use of firearms by Palestinians against their own people and against security forces.

According to Barak, of 1,400 suspects arrested in the territories, 130 were carrying fire-arms when they were apprehended and 13 were killed, in most instances after drawing their weapons.

The chief of staff stressed that soldiers are allowed to open fire in only two circumstances: if a suspect threatens their lives, or if a suspect refuses to obey an order to halt. In such case, the soldier is obliged to give verbal warning first, then fire into the air and, only as a last resort, fire at the suspect’s legs.

Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom, chief of the Central Command, which includes the West Bank, admitted in a television interview Friday that sometimes a soldier will miss the legs and wound a fleeing suspect fatally.

But he told reporters Sunday that reports that soldiers are authorized to shoot to kill are “complete nonsense.”

He said every instance in which firearms are used by the army is investigated.

Recommended from JTA