Support for the Nahal Brigade soldier who was videotaped in an aggressive exchange with Palestinian Arab youths in Hevron reached peak levels Thursday afternoon, as the Facebook page supporting him passed 104,000 “likes.”
The soldier, who has been identified as David Adamov, cocked his gun and aimed it at Arab youths who provoked him and approached him in a menacing fashion, one of whom was armed with brass knuckles.
The incident was videotaped by the Arabs and the video uploaded to the internet in order to show Israeli soldiers in a negative light, but had the unexpected effect of galvanizing support around Adamov in Israel, and creating public debate about the exceedingly harsh limitations on use of force by soldiers in Judea and Samaria.
It turns out that by coincidence, Adamov had been court-martialled a few hours before the incident, for violence against other soldiers in his unit, which included throwing a stone at his commander. Other soldiers from the unit thought that he had been tried for the incident involving the Arabs, and started a protest, which went viral.
Adamov himself admitted on his Facebook page that he had been tried and sentenced before the incident that was captured on videotape, for an unrelated event. He is reportedly to be jailed for 20 days, and will begin his jail time after the upcoming holiday.
Coincidence and bad behavior notwithstanding, the fact that the event sparked such an unprecedented backlash indicates the huge amount of frustration that Israelis have, regarding the IDF's policies in Judea and Samaria – and possibly regarding Israel's general policy vis-a-vis terrorism, including the highly unpopular prisoner releases that were carried out as “gestures.”
The groundswell of support for the soldier and the fact that everyone, including IDF officers, was quick to believe he had been sentenced for his aggressive behavior vis-a-vis the Arab provocation, also indicates that the IDF has a history of punishing soldiers for even the slightest use of force in Judea and Samaria.
The IDF's initial reaction to the video and the protest was a statement in which the IDF spokesman chided Adamov for behaving improperly.
Only later, when support for Adamov swelled, did the IDF backtrack from its criticism of Adamov's videotaped actions. It was then that the Spokesman also noted that Adamov had been tried over an unrelated event involving violence inside his unit.
Economics Minister Naftali Bennett joined the supporters Wednesday, declaring: "I would have acted in the same way as David the Nahal Brigade combat soldier," on his Facebook page.
"He acted correctly," he continued. "What we see in the film is very simple... He was alone, surrounded by a number of violent Arabs and provocateurs. He did not open fire; he took reasonable steps to protect himself and others around him and brought the incident to an end."
"In the background there were two cameramen, and not by chance," he noted. "The extreme-left thrives on smearing the IDF. This should draw condemnations from across the political spectrum."
MK Eli Yishai (Shas) placed a badge on his Facebook page bearing the words “I stand with the Nahal soldier,” in identification with the infantryman. “When a soldier who was sent to serve in the name of his country and for his nation feelss threatened, is in danger, he is obligated to do everything possible to remove that threat,” Yishai wrote.
"The situation our soldiers are in, when serving in the territories, is not simple,” wrote Yishai, “But one thing is clear: whoever feels danger has the duty and privilege of taking action to remove the threat.”