IDF relieves soldier from combat duty after freezing in terror attack

The soldier was seen in a video walking backward instead of responding to a Molotov cocktail attack.

The IDF on Monday removed a soldier from his combat position following an incident in which he responded passively to an attack against him.

The Golani soldier failed to act when a firebomb was hurled at him near the settlement of Kedumim on Saturday night.

The incident became public after a video taken by the security camera circulated online.

It shows the perpetrator get out of a car, approach the soldier and hurl a firebomb at him. In response, the soldier walks backward without retaliating. The perpetrator runs to his car and flees.

“Although it was a complicated situation, the soldier was expected to operate according to the [IDF’s] rules of engagement and to respond until the terrorist is neutralized,” the IDF said Monday. Because of the complexity of the incident, his reinstatement to a combat roll will be reassessed in several months, it added.

“We should see [victory] as a compass that guides us all the time and in all fields, in our operational activity and in exercises, in our day-to-day duties and in emergency cases, in our home front and in the front,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Monday. “The value of victory is not a term that is reserved only for war. It is an integral component of the identity of a soldier.”

“Every soldier standing in front of an enemy, in his daily routine or in war, must be precise in his actions,” he said. “He must act to initiate contact and to thwart every threat.”

“The IDF rules of engagement are clear and simple,” Kochavi said. “This is what guided the actions of the IDF soldiers and commanders throughout the year in many incidents. This is how they thwarted terrorist attacks, and we demand that soldiers act this way in every incident without exception.”
On Sunday, OC 98th Division Brig.-Gen Ofer Winter wrote to his company commanders and told them to talk with their soldiers about the incident and learn from it, Kan News reported.

“This soldier did not attempt to create contact [with the perpetrator],” he wrote. “This is not the first time such a scenario has happened to us as a military. I expect you to talk to your soldiers.”

“Why didn’t the soldier respond? Was such a scenario practiced? Are you making sure that next time, when something like that happens, our combat soldiers will attempt to create contact and end the incident with different outcomes?” Winter wrote.

In response to the incident, MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) blamed the legal system for prosecuting people who act in self-defense.

“This story is crazy,” he said. “A Gadsar Golan [combat unit] warrior is afraid to shoot a terrorist who lights up a Molotov cocktail and hurls it at him from a short distance.”

“But it’s not the soldier’s fault,” he said on Twitter. “The Israeli legal system is to blame for acting like [they did] in Sodom. Whoever indicts Aryeh Schiff [who shot and killed a Bedouin car thief in Arad earlier this month] for murder should not be surprised that the soldiers are afraid to shoot terrorists.”

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