Comment: Tying the Jerusalem terror attack to the Elor Azaria affair
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot saw the security camera footage that emerged after Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem just like everybody else. He saw dozens of soldiers running to and fro, just not in the direction of the truck and the assailant.
The impression of soldiers running for their lives provoked a violent and hurtful discourse. One cannot ignore the difficult images on the background of the Elor Azaria affair, in which an IDF soldier was convicted of manslaughter last week after being caught on camera shooting a wounded and seemingly incapacitated terrorist who he claimed was still a threat. The voices tying the soldiers’ alleged hesitation to shoot the terrorist driver to the Azaria affair came mainly from politicians and social media users.
What angers the IDF chief of staff most is that the reality on the ground is the complete opposite; on the ground, soldiers open fire, kill terrorists and neutralize terror scenes without hesitation or fear.
“You cannot expect a young cadet to operate like an infantry soldier at the scene of a terror attack if he was never trained to do so,” an IDF source told me Sunday. And he’s right. However, the images still fan the flames.
In 2016, IDF soldiers killed 84 terrorists; 79 terrorists in Judea and Samaria and another five terrorists on the Gaza border. In the past year, IDF soldiers neutralized and wounded 874 terrorists; 757 of them in Judea and Samaria and another 117 on the Gaza border.
The security camera footage may suggest hesitance among the soldiers, however, the numbers show that IDF soldiers do not hesitate. Testimony from soldiers who were at the scene of Sunday’s terror attack also does not suggest a fear to open fire. “The moment I realized it was a terror attack, I put in a magazine and fired at the terrorist,” the cadet, “T,” said Sunday.
The hero of the day, Eitan Rond, who killed the terrorist, told Army Radio that he thought the soldiers avoided confronting the terrorist because of the Azaria affair. His comments were inappropriate, wrong, judgmental and besmirched the good name of combat soldiers in the IDF. Rond struck twice on Sunday: the first time he struck heroically against the terrorist – and the second time he struck a sensitive and exposed nerve in the IDF. The IDF continues its refusal to recognize the Elor Azaria effect.
The violent discourse on Sunday surrounding the question of whether there is or isn’t an Azaria influence proves that the IDF is not reading the correct map. Perhaps the numbers show that the IDF is not hesitant, however reality shows that it is very vulnerable.