Two weeks ago, undercover IDF soldiers carrying out a drill in a Palestinian village in the West Bank killed a resident after several mistook them for burglars and attacked them. Israeli press buried the real story: The fact that the IDF used Palestinians as drill props – and killed one.
Ynet sure knows how to bury the lede: They report that a Duvdevan Unit soldier was dismissed from his unit after kicking the face of a handcuffed Palestinian two weeks ago. Such a dismissal, were it attended by several months in prison, would indeed be a proper punishment; but this is not the important story.
How did the Palestinian find himself in handcuffs in the first place? Well, a team of armed Duvdevan soldiers (who wander around dressed as Palestinians, not in uniform and without obvious weaponry) decided to hold an infiltration practice drill in a Palestinian village. Their infiltration skills were not up to snuff, as it turned out, and the villagers – who suffered recently from a wave of burglaries – took them for burglars, and attacked them with cold weapons, wounding one. The gunmen opened fire, wounding two of the people who were trying to defend their home and property. One of them later died of his wounds. The other was kicked in the face while handcuffed.
So, the IDF punished a soldier who acted in an unprofessional yet excusable way – such actions by soldiers after their comrades are hit is unbecoming yet unavoidable; this is the price of unleashing the beast in man, by turning him into a soldier – but refrained from punishing the people who decided Palestinians are so lacking in basic human properties, that they may be used as extras in a military exercise which may, as it turned out, include live fire. The IDF has been practicing on Palestinians for months now, perhaps years, and this time the practice went bad – and, worst of all from the IDF’s point of view, made it to the press. The soldier who lost control was dismissed; the officers who planned the exercise on live human beings and the soldiers armed with live weapons – that is the people responsible for the death of the villager, will remain in their posts.
A few years back, the Knesset passed a bill called the Daromi Law, which made it permissible for a person to defend himself from burglars even with deadly force. When you think about the Palestinians’ lack of rights, you ought to remember that the basic right to defend yourself from armed IDF soldiers is lacking – even when you mistake them for common criminals, not legalized ones. This is not the only case when a drill using live Palestinians ended in death: a drill in Ketziot Prison, intended to build morale, ended with the guards shooting prisoners in their cells, killing one and wounding others.
But the IDF still tells itself, and anyone who will listen to it, that it maintained its “purity of arms” by relieving the soldier who kicked the prisoner.