The IDF is ready for the media and international criticism during the next war by training officers to help civilians during fighting.
The IDF’s image was seriously marred by reports by foreign media and the United Nations in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza two years ago. These reports were often if not almost always biased against Israel. Last week, the IDF completed the first training of officers who will be embedded in fighting units to help them deal with humanitarian situations affecting civilians.
The Population Assistance Officers, from both regular and reserve units, trained in 24 different situations that can challenge soldiers in the heat of battle.
“We chose officers from the ranks of junior officers to the rank of major for a full week of learning and training, including understanding the role of international organizations and their influence on the media during fighting,” IDF spokesmen said.
The officers learned rudimentary phrases in Arabic and were taught about Arab culture. They will enter the field with a pocket dictionary and a handbook of instructions on how deal with situations while soldiers are endangered by live fire.
One scenario involves evacuating handicapped civilians during fighting by opening a humanitarian corridor for rescue vehicles and for the removal of bodies, as well as holding fire temporarily while humanitarian aid can enter. All of the procedures must be carried out while soldiers in the field are endangered by enemy fire, the IDF added.
The head of the training school said, “In future battles, it will not be enough simply to reach a line of defense. It also will be necessary to do so in the right way. By taking into consideration the local population, the army will have more legitimacy for continuing operations in the field."
The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said the new course is expected to educate as many as 20 reserve officers for a week, covering the subject of the civilian component in combat.