IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot
Photo: Motti Kimchi
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot instructed the military on Monday evening to change the orders that require soldiers to leave their weapons at base before leaving for vacation in the wake of the death of an off-duty unarmed soldier in a terror attack in Sha'ar Binyamin last week.
Until now, the IDF policy was for soldiers going on vacation that is longer than three days to leave their weapons in the base's armory. This is done to prevent the weapons from being stolen.
From now on, however, soldiers will carry their weapons home with them, and the IDF said they will be instructed on how to secure their weapons while they're off base.
1st-Sgt. Tuvia Yanai Weissman, 21, was on a week-long vacation from the army and, in accordance with IDF procedures, left his weapon at the base. While shopping with his wife and four-months-old daughter at the Rami Levi supermarket in the Sha'ar Binyamin Industrial Zone, two 14-year-old Palestinians entered the store and stabbed one of the shoppers. Weissman, who heard the commotion, ran to help - unarmed - and was stabbed to death. The two terrorists, who also moderately wounded another Israeli, where stopped by an armed civilian who opened fire on them.
Earlier Monday, Nahal Brigade Commander Col. Amos HaCohen ordered the opening of an examination of the issue following complaints from soldiers who claim fighters living in the conflict areas, like the West Bank, should be allowed to go home with their personal weapons.
Weissman was murdered while wearing civilian clothes, but many commanders have been urging their soldiers to carry their weapons with them even if they're not in uniform - because of the escalation in violence.
"There's no way to tell whether the decision to let them go home with their weapons would've changed what happened," an IDF official said. "But it's definitely appropriate to examine the issue in a time when civilians are urged to carry weapons."
Eisenkot's orders to allow soldiers to carry their weapons home on vacation comes several days after comments he made about the rules of engagement led to criticism from some right wing politicians.
The IDF chief told high school students in Bat Yam last week that he did not want "a soldier to empty a magazine into a girl with scissors."