The IDF soldier in the Golani brigade who was captured on film refraining from opening fire on a terrorist he watched throwing a Molotov cocktail has been removed from active service.
A video posted on social media on Saturday night shows an Arab terrorist getting out of a vehicle at the Kedumim junction, lighting a firebomb, and throwing it at close range at the Golani fighter, who appears to be afraid to open fire. The terrorist then fled the scene; he has since been apprehended.
An IDF investigation of the incident revealed that the soldier concerned was on guard duty and spotted a suspicious vehicle driving back and forth. At one point, the vehicle stopped and an Arab got out and started walking toward the soldier, who drew his weapon in response. However, assuming that the Arab was about to perpetrate a stabbing attack, the soldier sought to engage the Arab rather than firing at him; the possibility of a firebomb attack did not occur to him.
The soldier’s commanding officer, assessing the incident, determined that he acted correctly in seeking to engage the Arab at a point when he suspected a stabbing attempt, but that he failed in his duty when he did not respond to the firebomb attack.
Reactions to the incident were swift in coming, with MK Betzalel Smotrich (Yamina) blaming the legal system for producing a situation in which soldiers are afraid to open fire lest they end up hauled into court as a result. Jewish Home head Rafi Peretz insisted that “the Defense Minister must make sure commanders derive the necessary lessons from this incident, as such a response only encourages terrorism.”
Statistics from the Judea and Samaria Division show that there were 590 instances of rock-throwing at IDF soldiers in the last year, 90 stabbing attempts, and 20 firebomb attacks.