All of us were educated in the Israel Defense Forces to adhere to the code of the purity of arms, part of which means using our weapons in a moral way. The moment a decision is taken and a bullet is shot, the goal is to hit and neutralize enemy actions. The moment we fired, and the enemy or terrorist was hit, and we are under the impression that he was neutralized, there is no room to shoot again – even if this is the most terrible and despicable terrorist. We shall never shoot him in cold blood. Only if the danger has not been lifted, neutralization means confirming the kill.
The situation where a terrorist driving a bulldozer went on a rampage through one of Jerusalem’s streets was faced by a police officer, a 22-year-old woman, who immediately realized this was a terror act. She then decided to shoot the rampaging bulldozer driver while he was speeding.
With all due respect to the brave soldier who showed great courage at the end of the incident, and I certainly take my hat off to him, his act was the easy part of the incident. The difficult part was performed by police office Revital Nahum, who took the difficult decision to shoot the driver.
We are a moral people
In my view, Nahum is the true hero; she faced the most difficult situation when she fired two bullets, hit the terrorist, and in fact stopped the incident. The police officer’s partner who hopped into the driver’s seat saw that the driver was unconscious and therefore put down his gun and didn’t shoot him. This is precisely the stage where a police officer should not be firing in cold blood, even if we are dealing with a despicable terrorist.
Regrettably, a civilian who hurled a stone at the terrorist aroused him. At that point, the terrorist started struggling with the police officer, and to my regret was able to hurt and kill another woman, but the policeman could not have acted any other way. Had he shot the terrorist while he was unconscious, this could have been perceived as an immoral act. Yet we are a moral people, and in our Book of Books it says “thou shalt not murder.”
I do not precisely conform to the definition of a “good boy.” The proof of this is the order I issued, as Jerusalem police chief, to shoot a handcuffed terrorist wearing an explosive belt in March 2002. Although the terrorist was nabbed and his arms were handcuffed, he continued to struggle wildly and there was real danger that the explosive device will go off. Therefore, I gave the order to put a gun to his head and shoot him.
Yet that situation was not the same as the situation where the police officer decided not to shoot the terrorist when he was initially neutralized. The term “confirm kill” is immoral, and it has no legal basis.
Mickey Levy is the former Jerusalem District police chief