The British Soldier Who Shot a Downed Terrorist versus the IDF One

The British Soldier Who Shot a Downed Terrorist versus the IDF One

APRIL 19 2016

Yesterday an IDF soldier was indicted for shooting a wounded, prone terrorist in the aftermath of a stabbing attack. The case has sparked much controversy in Israel—along with the usual censure and handwringing abroad—as the soldier’s defenders claim that he responded to a credible threat, while others assert that he committed murder. Noting a similar, if more clearcut, case involving a British marine in Afghanistan in 2011, likewise caught on video, Ben-Dror Yemini draws some conclusions:

[The British soldier, Alexander Wayne] Blackman, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of ten years. . . . There was no argument over the facts. The video revealed the full picture, including the fact that Blackman was aware he was violating the Geneva Conventions. . . .

The conviction intensified the protests [against Blackman’s prosecution]. The British defense secretary, Michael Fallon, ordered soldiers not to attend demonstrations in solidarity with Blackman, because these were “political” demonstrations. Fallon’s order was ignored as thousands rallied, including 700 members of the marines, both on active duty and in the reserves. Many of the demonstrators were in uniform. . . . There was a heated argument in military circles [about whether Blackman deserved his punishment].

The British case is not presented here to justify the unusual incident. Israel should be proud of the ethical norms that its commanders enforce. . . . The [Blackman] case is described here because we sometimes have to observe others to understand that we are a lot more normal than the way our media often depict us. The incident is cited here in the context of those, and there are too many of them, who stigmatize Israel. That’s enough, guys. . . . We’re tired of the endless celebration of self-made demonization.