Former Senior officials of the IDF stress that despite the gravity of incidents of abuse against Palestinians, they are few and far between. This claim came as a defense after a report of female soldiers’ testimonies of abuse of Palestinians. Former IDF chief of Staff Amnon Lipkin-Shahak said, “Cases in which IDF soldiers abuse civilian population do exist but they are rare, and cannot be called a phenomenon.”
Former Central Command chief Yair Nave says that indeed the incidents described by the female soldiers do in fact occur. According to Nave, the reality of a soldier facing a civilian is a “forceful” one and that the army would find itself in a problem if it does not put an emphasis on the disciplinary and normative aspects.
Nave said this:
“Power blinds the eyes of the righteous and puts man in an inhumane sphere, it exists in every society…We were blessed with good soldiers and a moral code, it’s not our point of view, but there are unusual cases and they must be handled immediately, and not a year or two after the event.”
Nave stands in criticism of the Breaking the Silence organization and claims that the incidents brought to light, by it are exceptions, if not fabricated altogether. Still, he stressed that during his term as central command chief, complaints were inquired about as fast as they were submitted. He is fully confident that the IDF operates according to the highest of standards.
“One cannot say this will always be the way, and that it’s human nature. The phenomenon must be eradicated.”
Nave says that the IDF is employing various measures, such as assigning the best combat units to the field, stationing an officer or senior commander in the checkpoints on a regular basis, providing soldiers and Palestinians with various complaint mechanisms and employing the services of the women of Machsom Watch.
“The soldiers must face the commanders, there are ways of reporting and one can do it anonymously too. In the IDF, once you investigate there is no bond of silence.”
Former Chief Education Officer Ilan Harari also believes that the problem cannot be fully eradicated:
“We have a fair and moral army, and the IDF handles and educates on any issue but one must bear in mind that nothing can be fully prevented just as traffic accidents cannot be prevented.”
Harari believes the way to deal with the problem is through education and enforcing discipline. In this school of thought, the root of the problem does not lie with the army. It is important to know that such irregular manifestations exist in every sector of society. Lipkin-Shahak said:
“Look at Israeli society; kids attacking and stabbing each other. I don’t know whether it reflects on the army, but there’s irregular behavior everywhere. Only clear statements and strict enforcement will send the right message.”