IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot stressed Wednesday that the army’s rules of engagement were sufficient to deal with terrorist threats, adding that he would not want to see a situation in which a soldier emptied a full magazine “at a girl holding scissors.”
Speaking at a high school in the coastal city of Bat Yam, Eisenkot said that a soldier must shoot to kill perpetrators of terrorist attacks only if there is an immediate threat to human life.
“When there’s a 13-year-old girl holding scissors or a knife and there is some distance between her and the soldiers, I don’t want to see a soldier open fire and empty his magazine at a girl like that, even if she is committing a very serious act,” Eisenkot said. “Rather he should use the force necessary to fulfill the objective.”
“The army can not speak in slogans such as ‘kill or be killed,'” he said in response to a student’s question on the IDF’s “lenient” rules of engagement.
In November, two Palestinian girls stabbed an elderly Arab man in central Jerusalem with a pair of scissors, after mistaking him for a Jew. The two assailants were shot by an off-duty policemen. The 16-year-old assailant died at the scene and her 14-year-old cousin was critically injured. The policeman was subsequently questioned.
Israel’s Channel 10 TV said Eisenkot’s remarks angered “senior Jerusalem police officers” who took them as a personal attack on the policeman who fired the fatal shots in the market incident.
In the wave of terror attacks that broke out in October, in which over 30 Israelis have been killed, dozens of Palestinian assailants have been shot dead while trying to stab, shoot, or ram their cars into Israelis.
Eisenkot also addressed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s Tuesday threat that his organization could target Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks. Eisenkot said that while the Lebanese terrorist group was the organization with the most significant military capability in the region, Israel had nevertheless succeeded in the last decade to exercise deterrence and secure the northern border with Lebanon. (The IDF chief served as the head of the army’s Operations Directorate during the Second Lebanon War.)
On Tuesday, Nasrallah insisted that although his group isn’t currently seeking war with Israel, it could defeat the Jewish state in a future conflict by targeting Haifa’s ammonia storage tanks, resulting in massive fatalities. Dismissing recent reports of a possible outbreak of hostilities with Israel, Nasrallah said deterrence established by the terror organization in the first and second Lebanon wars was keeping Israeli aggression at bay.