Daily Israel Report

Unprecedented IDF Protest over Soldier's Punishment

Thousands identify with soldier who was dismissed for cocking his gun when threatened by Arab youths.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/30/2014, 7:51 AM

IDF soldiers protest "We also stand with the Nahlawi"
IDF soldiers protest "We also stand with the Nahlawi"
Youtube/0404

In over 3,000 photos reportedly sent in to a small news outlet, thousands of IDF soldiers from all units have expressed their support for a Nahal Brigade soldier who has been dismissed from combat service because he cocked his gun in an incident that was videotaped by Arab youths who threatened and provoked him, in Hevron.

The video shows at least three Arab youths behaving in a threatening manner toward the soldier, who was alone. The soldier warns one of the youths not to continue provoking him, after the youth pushes him, but the youth continues to behave in a threatening manner. The soldier cocks his weapon and points it at the youth and at another youth who springs toward him, with what appears to be a set of brass knuckles on his hand. The soldier kicks the first youth away from him.

The video does not include the provocations that preceded the incident. In a longer version he also warns the cameraman to stop videotaping the incident and calls for backup.

Arab extremists and their left-wing allies uploaded the video to the internet and notified the media. The IDF promptly announced that the soldier's behavior “deviated from the norm.” Military sources said that the soldier used too much violence and acted hastily when he attacked the youth, and that he might be dismissed from his unit as a result. They also said that the soldier would no longer serve in combat positions.

News site 0404's editor, Boaz Golan, told the NRG website that following the story, he received two photographs from IDF soldiers who expressed identification with the Nahal soldier by holding signs that said “I stand with the Nahlawi” (“Nahlawi” is military slang for Nahal soldier).

Once he uploaded the pictures to the site's Facebook page, he was swamped by a deluge of similar photos from all of the IDF's units. “I do not remember such a widespread protest in the IDF, ever,” Golan said. “One can certainly say tht this is a protest that includes all of the soldiers and Border Police, all of the units countrywide. We got more than 3,100 photos with the caption 'I stand with the Nahlawi.'”

"The soldiers we spoke to – including pilots, naval commandos, members of Duvdevan, all of the mandatory service army units and even a battalion commander in an active combat brigade – demand that the Israeli government give them the ability to properly deal with the difficulties they encounter on the ground. They are protesting that their hands are tied and they are unable to respond properly to violence by the Palestinians. They stress that they are not against the IDF and that they are ready to serve and carry out any mission. The main protest is against the policy, which is not determined by the army.”

Palestinian Arab youths regularly taunt and provoke IDF soldiers while videotaping the incidents, in the hope that a soldier will respond with force. They do so in the knowledge that the Israeli media will broadcast the footage they send them uncritically, even if it has been heavily edited by them to leave out most of the Arab provocations. 

This tactic of provocation against the IDF is aided and abetted by B'tselem, an NGO that distributes cameras to Palestinian Arabs for the purpose of catching soldiers behaving in ways that could land them in trouble, and creating anti-Israel propaganda. Their most successful stunt of this type in recent years led to the dismissal of a senior officer, Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner, after he used force against an anarchist. The anarchist was part of a group that sought to disrupt traffic on a major highway and whose members behaved violently, breaking one of Eisner's fingers.

A B'tselem activist was convicted in December of throwing rocks at soldiers and using his B'tselem equipment as a disguise.

B'tselem relies on funding from the New Israel Fund.