The commander of the IDF's Hevron Brigade, Col. Avi Baluth, hinted Monday at his support for IDF soldier David Adamov, who recently inadvertently gained fame when he was videotaped by Hevron Arabs, cocking his weapon in response to a threatening situation.
Adamov, who has become widely known as 'Avi the Nahal Soldier' ('Avi the Nahlawi'), came under initial criticism from the IDF for his aggressive response to the provocation staged by a group of local Arabs armed with video cameras.
Baluth addressed the Independence Day celebration at the Cave of Machpela compound and received stormy applause when he said: “I, as Brigade Commander, give my backing to the soldiers, and expect them to defend the nation proudly – to cock the weapon when necessary, to shoot on target when needed, and to do it all in a thought-out manner, with cool-minded decision, without losing control and with clean language, as is proper for an Israeli soldier.”
This is the first time that an IDF officer openly gives backing to Adamov – albeit without naming him. Initially, the IDF distanced itself from him, and said he had behaved improperly. When faced with a maelstrom of online support for Adamov, the military denied that Adamov's jail sentence was due to the incident with the Arab youths, and explained that he had been sentenced for previous disciplinary infractions.
Regardless of why Adamov was sent to jail, the huge online rebellion the incident spurred among soldiers from all units indicates the degree of frustration that soldiers feel in the face of what they perceive as unfairly stringent open-fire orders. "Central Command and the Judea and Samaria theater have turned into a Russian roulette," wrote one reservist, "in which the lives, health and dignity of soldier and civilians hang in the balance, while Palestinian marauders enjoy near complete immunity in what an only be described as operational recklessness."
A video uploaded to Youtube by an Arab photographer earlier this year shows a crowd of youths from the Jilazoun neighborhood near Beit El, throwing rocks at IDF soldiers and approaching them until they are just a few feet away.
The soldiers show extreme restraint, even trying to stop the stones with their hands, until the moment when their commander apparently feels that their lives are in danger, and gives the OK to open fire. It is likely that the soldiers fired rubber-coated bullets, however, and that they may have been fired in the air in warning, rather than being aimed at the bodies of the rioters.
The incident joins a slew of increasingly daring attacks on Israeli security forces, and a pattern that repeats itself in all of them is the Israelis' reluctance to open fire. This reluctance stems from fear of an ultraleftist legal system and media, which routinely combine forces to shame and punish IDF officers and soldiers for almost any use of force.
In another recent incident that also occurred near Beit El, a group of young Arab terrorists can be seen as it awaits an Israeli motorized patrol, and attacks it with firebombs. which advances in a convoy of vehicles fitted with protective gear. A week earlier at nearby Anata, a firebomb was thrown at a jeep in an attempt to set it on fire, while cinderblocks were also hurled. Containers with paint were thrown at the windshields of the vehicles to try and block the drivers' field of vision.