IDF soldiers training (Photo: EPA)
Eitan Haber

There is no such thing as a moral military

Despite striving for such a lofty goal, due to the inherent nature of war it is truly impossible for a moral army to exist.

The IDF wants to be the most moral military in the world, the most virtuous it can be, but it can't, even if all the soldiers and commanders were angels. War and ethics are not mutually exclusive. In the military one kills and sometimes one is even killed. Everything connected to shootings and death is immoral. "By way of deception, you shall make war", our sages said, and everything involving blood and sending enemy soldiers and terrorists into the afterlife is immoral.



It seems that the politicians who were combat commanders have forgotten their lessons. Only those who did not experience bullets whistling around their heads and ears can talk about a "moral military." In the military one is confronted with man's ultimate test-  life or death. Enemy soldiers and terrorists are trying to kill you. You're trying to kill them. Where is the morality?


Kfir Brigade in action (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
Kfir Brigade in action (Photo: Yoav Zitun)


The soldier who shot the terrorist who was lying on the road in Hebron a few days ago was not the first who acted immorally towards enemy terrorists.  I personally witnessed a popular officer shoot the bodies of 11 terrorists to mark the location of the attack at a briefing for military reporters. The other side, the enemy, certainly doesn't care about morality.


Next Friday family and friends will visit the grave of Major Yossi Kaplan on the 47th anniversary of his death. Kaplan was part of a squad chasing terrorists in the Jordan Valley. The cell reportedly came to a cave at the opening of which a Bedouin was nursing her baby. The moral Israeli soldiers did not want to bother the Bedouin as she was nursing her baby and asked her if there were people inside the cave. The woman replied in the negative. The moral and ethical Israelis were satisfied with her response. They did not examine the cave. After a minute or two, terrorists came out of that cave, killing Kaplan and three of his comrades. They were moral, but dead. The Bedouin woman received curses and insults, and she no doubt was immoral, but she apparently lived to a ripe old age.


This does not mean that the soldier who shot the terrorist in the alleyways of Hebron acted properly. He probably didn't. Only those who have walked though the alleys of Jenin or Nablus or Hebron in full gear, only those who had bullets whizzing by their ears can understand what happens to a soldier who finds himself suddenly facing stone throwers or getting actively shot at. This does not mean, God forbid, that we intend to protect this particular soldier. The courts will determine his sentence. But when he is sentenced, and he will probably receive a severe punishement, it's important to remember that the spirit of the IDF - the IDF's values - is nothing but a piece of paper. In reality a military that has been operating for almost 50 years in the alleys of Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah and Qalqiliya loses its ethical principles. Therefore, the IDF can't be - and probably never will be - the most moral military in the world. A moral military simply doesn't exist. 





פרסום ראשון: 03.31.16, 13:04
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