+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

IDF soldiers enter village, kill Palestinian in drill gone awry

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.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. My sense of outrage makes me want to post a comment but what is there to say? What is there to do?

      So I will just bookmark this in my mind and hopefully the memory of such occurrences will prove somehow useful one day….

      Reply to Comment
    2. TLA

      What +972 doesn’t mention is that IDF is practicing in Israeli towns just as well. I has actually witnessed it myself in one of my visits, when the Israeli soldiers were practicing on a house in one of the neighborhoods.
      It is also clearly stated in the YNET article that the dismissal is not the end of it, and there’s going to be a police investigation on the matter, which would probably uncover what exactly happened much better than the +972 single-sided speculations.
      Truth in reporting is one of the main attributes of reliable media, and truth is not to be found in +972 reports. Not a single article that I look at is without “omissions” (like the police investigation in this case) or blatant slanders.

      Reply to Comment
    3. These soldiers entered the village dressed as local people. They present themselves as Palestinians, and the way they were creeping around the village caused local people to mistake them for burglars. TLA, if the soldiers whom you saw were doing the exact same thing – out of uniform, looking like locals – then how could you even know that they were soldiers? And assuming that the IDF is routinely practising infiltration in Israel (presumably with more success than it had in this village, seeing as we never hear of undercover soldiers sneaking through the suburbs of Kfar Saba), how many Jewish Israeli deaths have there been as a result? How many Israeli Jews have been physically assaulted by the soldiers carrying out these infiltration exercises?
      As for police investigations, the families of people like Iman al-Hams and Abir Aramin have learned the hard way not to put their trust in those. If an investigation takes place at all (and it is a big ‘if’) it usually results in the soldier receiving a token punishment, or simply being redeployed. There is no guarantee that an investigation will happen in this particular case: Ynet reports vaguely that an investigation ‘may’ happen. Many Palestinians are familiar with that ‘may’.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Thanks, TLA, if what you say is true!

      I think the case would have been outrageous enough anyway even with the additional facts you provide so I don’t see why 972 Mag needed to omit them (if, again, it is true what you allege).

      Reply to Comment
    5. “this is the price of unleashing the beast in man, by turning him into a soldier”
      I can now see why some could believe any allegation against the IDF. As to this story, I suspect Yossi G., who has already had to defend himself against inquiry, would post only if he had very good reason to believe its contents true. His effectiveness could be ever damaged if otherwise, and I have, from afar, seen no man more didicated to searching for the truth in this conflict. If I am wrong in my surmise, pray, show me, and other viewers.
      So, assuming the story’s veracity, I am numbed. I had forgotten the prison drill espisode, although I saw the video posted on this site. To use occupied noncombatants in this way violates the rules of war and may well merit the label atrocity. I understand the fear engine which propells the IDF, its genesis in the suicide bombings. But is there not an old adage of becoming your enemy? I have a stock maybe quote from Cicero: “Choose your enemies wisely–for you shall become them.”
      If this story is accurate, I say we all need to pause on that quote. And, again if it is true (and I do not say this to “if” to taunt), I say the frustration and resolve of men like Yossi G. must be tremendous.
      I use my real name on this site for two reason: I’m old enough, and nothing enough, that it cannot matter; and I am tired of all of us hiding because we are afraid of–our own–words. Is this what human sociality is? To speak, then hide? Maybe this conveys what I think of +972, whatever errors that sometimes come.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jennifer

      @TLA the YNET article did not say there is going to be a police investigation. The quote is copied from the YNET article.
      “After probing the incident, the IDF decided to relieve the soldier from duty, and he may face a Military Police investigation as well.”
      May is not will!

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jacob

      I’m sorry I feel I’m missing something. Were the undercover trainees a) present in a West Bank village dressed as Palestinian civilians and thought to be acting suspiciously then attacked? OR b) were they actually performing some act like attempting to break in to a building?

      If it is only the former, I would suggest this is an act that intelligence operatives all over the world participate in in their training.

      The soldier involved should have faced a police investigation for sure, and wandering around armed in a village is a practice that needs to be reviewed, but the mere existence of such exercises is not remarkable, I wouldn’t think.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Not remarkable, Jacob, because you don’t live in such a village. A nice instance of no-speak, where everything is really ok all the time.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Shlomo Krol

      Sometimes the way the “Jewish-democratic” treats Palestinians resembles the way Spartiates treated Messenian Helots two and half millenia ago. Shame for all of us.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Elisabeth

      Israel is looking more and more like Sparta. The Spartans used their Helot slaves as drill props. Look up Krypteia.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Branko

      Weren’t the Palestinians entitled to protect their property under the Dromi law?

      Reply to Comment
    12. Shlomo – yes, very apt, except Israel would gladly allow its Helots to run away. But you’re not the first…

      Reply to Comment
    13. the other joe

      Anyone else think it odd that Israelis can be prosecuted for simply being in Area A, yet soldiers without even the figleaf of doing something legitimate (such as trying to arrest someone) can wander around in drag. Could the PA Police have arrested them? What would have happened then?

      Reply to Comment
    14. annie

      this is so disgusting what will you think of next!
      and what kind of lame brain thinks an excuse is “What +972 doesn’t mention is that IDF is practicing in Israeli towns just as well.” so what? you want to murder your own citizens as props in a military excercise do it in your own town, that’s fine. but don’t go using palestinians villages to practice invading palestinians villages.
      excuse me! make yourself a mock village for heaven’s sake or do it in israel. the occupation is not your playground for whatever paintball game you want to play, with real weapons.
      you wanna tell me israel allows “palestinians to practice in Israeli towns just as well”? and if they happen to look like burglars and shoot one of your citizens, no biggie! dismiss the palestinian soldier. oh no, i’m sure you’d never brag about that and THAT would be the equivalent. not some other circumstance where you know very very very well an innocent jew in a jewish village would NOT have been gunned down in a similar circumstance. why are they even USING real weapons? this is sickening the disregard for human life. what is wrong with people who become so desensitised they even consider rationalizing this kind of action????? is there no limit?!

      Reply to Comment
    15. dickerson3870

      RE: “The IDF has been practicing on Palestinians for months now, perhaps years, and this time the practice went bad. . .” ~ Gurvitz

      FROM URI AVNERY, 9/03/11: (excerpt)…The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.
      This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground…

      Reply to Comment
    16. Thank you for your rebuttals, Jennifer and Annie. They help an outsider like myself understand better the situation.

      Reply to Comment
    17. TLA

      Annie, my point was that this site is not credible, they lie, they provide selective information, and they only want you to think in one direction.
      You may be right saying that the IDF shouldn’t be practicing in a civilian area, but that’s not what the article is trying to say.
      The impression from the article is that it is the Palestinians who are being used as props, and that if something happens – the soldiers go unpunished.
      Both claims are false, hence my point: This site is full of LIES.
      This is a propagandist site, paid for by the terrorists, and most of the commenters here are on a payroll, obviously.
      People who have minimal critical thinking skills will see right through it just as I did. I came here without knowing anything about this site, just because I was told I can read news from Israel here. After being able to show that none of the articles I’ve read so far is in any way objective or reliable just from my own personal knowledge, I can surely spread the word now: nothing you read here can be trusted. Most of what you read here is not news, its highly subjective and single-sided opinions.
      Facts that are reported here are deliberately chosen and taken out of their contexts to fit the propagandists’ agenda. Facts that don’t fit that agenda will not be reported here, thus the truth is distorted. Sometimes, saying partial truth is worse than lying. Look at the example of the Danish criminals hit by the IDF soldier. Yes, he shouldn’t have hit them. But in their own country they would be jailed for what they’ve done (blocking a highway, a criminal offense), yet when in Israel they’re shown as “poor peaceful activists”.

      Reply to Comment
    18. TLA

      @Jennifer, is there any reliable quote you can show me that there was no investigation?
      If not – then my point stands: +972.COM deliberately lied.

      Reply to Comment
    19. TLA, +972 didn’t say anything about an investigation either way – and to my knowledge, the IDF has made no definite pronouncement either. You went to Ynet and found this sentence: “After probing the incident, the IDF decided to relieve the soldier from duty, and he may face a Military Police investigation as well.” You took that ‘may’ and it turned it into definite concrete fact: “It is also clearly stated in the YNET article that the dismissal is not the end of it, and there’s going to be a police investigation on the matter.”
      Now, in the absence of any IDF confirmation that such an investigation is going to take place, you ask Jennifer to provide proof that one won’t. You also seem to be holding +972 to higher standards than the military spokespersons’ unit – +972 is expected to report as fact something that the IDF hasn’t declared, or else be accused of lying by you?
      As for the Danish protesters breaking the law, it is remarkably easy to do that in the occupied Jordan Valley, because the civilian population is subject to martial law. Demonstrations of any kind are illegal under this law. The residents are also denied other basic civil rights, such as the ability to move around; a network of checkpoints, flying roadblocks, roads on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel, and arbitrary closures see to that. Inhabitants of a particular village may wake up one morning to find themselves living in an area that has just been declared a closed military zone, with no way of telling when the order will be lifted, so it’s ironic that you chose ‘blocking the road’ as an example of a criminal offence that would have met with punishment elsewhere in the world. It is not possible to make out that the IDF were only acting as a police force elsewhere would act, because for one thing they aren’t any other police force – they’re an occupying military, enforcing military law, which for the people in this valley means home demolitions and midnight raids and a multitude of other horrors. You say that giving partial truth is as bad as lying, but in trying to make out that law enforcement in the West Bank is identical to law enforcement in other countries, you are only giving a very partial representation of the situation yourself.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Click here to load previous comments

The stories that matter.
The missing context.
All in one weekly email.

Subscribe to +972's newsletter