Gadi Eisenkot has already made a name for himself as a good chief of staff. This week he completed a year in office and is broadly appreciated and praised across the board.
It’s said that this Golani veteran is a modest, amiable, decent and honest guy. His performance is also commended. He has even taken the Jewish Awareness branch out of the military rabbinate. In his few statements he conveys moderation and independent thinking, which balances the ministers above him. He saw the opportunities in the nuclear agreement with Iran, he understands there is no military answer to the knife uprising. He objects to imposing a siege on the West Bank, supports increasing the work permits for Palestinians and refrains from making populist statements about terror attacks. Eisenkot indeed deserves praise for all these stands.
In spite of this, Eisenkot is responsible for the army’s sinking to one of the most horrific moral nadirs. Under the command of this people’s hero and media pet, the IDF is waging an ugly, despicable hunting campaign consisting of a series of daily executions. It’s been a long time since the army displayed such wild, lawless and violent conduct, which could be stopped with a single order. But the order isn’t being given.
On Wednesday, Eisenkot made this sensible, worthy statement: “I don’t want soldiers emptying magazines on girls with scissors.” But hardly a day goes by, in which soldiers don’t empty magazines on youths.
This is a policy – to kill, kill and kill. No taking prisoners, no arrest procedures, no rules of engagement. Every knife or scissors wielder, every stone or firebomb thrower and every car rammer – or anyone who is seen to resemble one – must die. Never has there been such a thing in the history of the brutal, savage Israeli occupation. In the Gaza Strip they’ve killed many more, of course. In the West Bank the IDF also rampaged more in the second intifada. But never have there been such wholesale executions, when armed soldiers are faced with young boys and girls, few of whom pose any danger to life.
That good, nice man, Eisenkot, knows there’s another way. That almost every young girl holding a pair of scissors can be stopped without killing her. That only cowardly soldiers kill children as a first resort. Eisenkot knows that if he only issues the order, the number of Palestinians who are killed will plunge drastically, without endangering the life of a single Israeli. He also knows that every Palestinian killed produces more assailants.
Eisenkot knows that his army is now sowing hatred the likes of which hasn’t been known in the occupied territories. But it’s doubtful if he knows what damage he’s bequeathing to a new generation of Israelis. Never have there been such pictures of girls dying on the road, with nobody approaching them. Never have there been such videos like the one disseminated this week. It shows Border Policemen in Hebron, who have fatally wounded another young girl wielding a knife. As she lies bleeding, with nobody coming to her aid, the policemen are busy pushing back the agitated residents, with typical brutality and violence. At the height of the ghastly scene one of the Border Police thugs overturns a wheelchair, throwing a helpless disabled man onto the road.
Even this stomach–turning event did not shake Israel. Maj. Gen. Eisenkot, the man who was praised, is directly and wholly responsible for it. The day he decided to allow unrestricted shooting he created this horror, and the horrors that will follow.
It’s a combination of a deplorable military response, which should have triggered shame in the IDF – the army has never fought against an enemy as helpless as those knife children – and immeasurable moral deterioration. The kind, much lauded Golani veteran is responsible for all this.
In Israel, nobody will hold him accountable. He will be remembered as a war hero, whose army fought bravely against the little knife-girl from Askar refugee camp and the woman from Silwad who tried to ram her car into Border Policemen. Maybe one day in The Hague they’ll think otherwise.