The Israeli military once had a storied reputation for bravery, integrity and willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. Think of three Israeli tanks singlehandedly stopping the advance of the entire Syrian army into northern Israel during the 1973 war. Think of the heroic efforts of the Palmach to break the siege of Jerusalem in 1948.
Watch this video distributed by B’Tselem and originally shot by a Palestinian teenager from the window of her home, and see to what extent those hopelessly old-fashioned values have shriveled and died. The operative ones for the current Israeli military are cruelty, banality, and depravity. If you watch the video carefully, you will see the Lt. Colonel on the right move the prisoner slightly to his left to give the shooter a clear line of fire. This is disgusting beyond measure.
I repeat something learned during the Lebanon War: an army which is forced to resort to shooting unarmed, blindfolded Palestinians merely for waving a Palestinian flag, as Ashraf Abu Rahma does at the beginning of this video, is an army that has forfeited any claim to decency. What is worse–this army does a deep disservice to the nation it is supposed to defend.
I suppose one could argue that the military is doing precisely what the Israeli people want it to do. Thus the blame falls not only on the the army itself, but on all of Israel.
If you wonder why it failed its mission during the Lebanon war, you can certainly point to hopelessly inadequate leadership at the top. But you should also point to the corruption of its mission caused by playing the role of army of Occupation. It is one thing to face a resourceful, resilient foe as it did in Hezbollah in 2006; and it is something else entirely to torment unarmed civilians. I personally don’t see how the army can perform both missions without screwing up one or the other or both.
Abu Rahma was shot in the toe in this incident by a rubber-coated steel bullet. He was treated by an Israeli medic and released. B’Tselem has demanded that the Lt. Col. and shooter in this incident be brought up on charges for violating regulations and international law. Will they?
To be fair, this incident was perpetrated by the Border Police, an agency known for its extreme cruelty and depravity. The IDF usually does have higher standards than the Border Police though both have been known for acts of extreme violence against civilians.