'Allow Soldiers to Protect Themselves'

The daughter of Rabbi Dan Mertzbach expects that IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria be allowed to open fire when in danger.

Elad Benari ,

Rabbi Dan Mertzbach
Rabbi Dan Mertzbach
Flash 90

The daughter of Rabbi Dan Mertzbach z”l, who was mistakenly shot to death by IDF soldiers 18 months ago, said on Thursday that the family expects that just as the IDF soldier who shot her father received backing from the army, so will soldiers who serve in Judea and Samaria be backed when fighting terrorism.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, the daughter, Rina Ben Shabbat, said that the family was satisfied with the video released this week and which cleared her father of any wrongdoing while proving that the soldiers were negligent.

She said that the family accepts the fact that the soldier who shot her father was not dismissed, despite the fact that he clearly was not in danger as he had claimed. Now, she added, the family expects that soldiers stationed in Judea and Samaria be allowed to open fire when their lives are threatened by Arab terrorists.

"At first we had to deal with very nasty rumors as though my dad was at fault for the incident, that he drove without lights, that he fell asleep, that he broke a barrier. They hurt his good name,” said Ben Shabbat. “We are pleased that today after the video was distributed, all doubts were completely removed and we hope that things like this do not happen again."

She added, however, "There are hundreds of soldiers and civilians who are in the midst of a third intifada on the roads of Judea and Samaria, and are instructed not to not respond when they are faced with life-threatening situations. So why are they not permitted to shoot to protect themselves?”

"I have to mention that over the years, Yesha residents and soldiers fired when their lives were in certain and real danger, both during rock-throwing as well as during rioting, and they were indicted, which is unacceptable," said Ben Shabbat.

The tragic event took place in the early morning hours of November 11, 2011. IDF soldiers in the south Hevron area were placed on alert and told to watch out for a Skoda-type car and stop it.

The video which was released Sunday shows the soldiers setting up a roadblock, but the Skoda can be seen passing them, apparently without being noticed. Fifteen seconds later, Rabbi Mertzbach's car appears.

The IDF investigation found that the soldiers tried to get Rabbi Mertzbach to stop his car by waving their arms and flashing a flashlight, but when he failed to do so they opened fire. A soldier can be seen firing at the car.

The soldier fired eight bullets, which killed the rabbi. The car veered into the guard rail at the right side of the road and then kept going for about 100 meters before stopping.

The Military Prosecution decided not to try the soldier who fired at the car, despite the fact that an investigation found that the road block was set up in a faulty way that made it difficult for oncoming cars to see it in time. The rabbi passed that area every morning at the same time and was known to the soldiers usually manning it.

Following the incident, it was reported that the IDF had changed the rules of engagement. According to the report, under the new directives, shots will not be fired at a moving car, even if it did not heed calls by the soldiers to stop, except in the case where the driver tries to run over the soldiers.