Controversy, violence and statistics

Controversy continues to rage over an Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian assailant who had already been subdued. A video of the incident drew strong responses from people. Benjamin Netanyahu said that the soldier’s actions "do not represent the values of the Israeli Defence Forces … The IDF expects its soldiers to act calmly and according to the rules of engagement."

Along with many others, a human rights group based in Hebron demanded that Israel should hold its army accountable for the killing of the Palestinian, which the UN Special Coordinator described as "a gruesome, immoral and unjust act that can only fuel more violence and escalate an already volatile situation."

The head of IDF said that commanders will back up a soldier who errs ‘in the heat of battle,’ but not one who intentionally violates Israel’s values. Yet the arrest of the soldier and investigation of the incident have led to strongly divided opinions within Israel. More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the military court to show support for the soldier.

Some say that it is not murder to kill a terrorist, even if he is ‘neutralised’. While others claim that the organisation which produced the video has distorted evidence on previous occasions.

This controversy rages amid the tensions that have arisen from the ongoing wave of terror that has already resulted in the deaths of 34 people who have been attacked and at least 187 assailants.

Israeli government statistics

At first sight these numbers suggest a disproportionate response by Israeli security forces. It is only when the figures for the injured are included that the picture changes. The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that 411 people have been injured in attacks, just 4 of them Palestinians. Thus the totals come to 441 Israelis and visitors killed or injured, and 191 Palestinians killed or injured.

One positive sign in all of this is that the number of attacks seems to be declining slowly. The last major attack in Jerusalem took place on 9th March outside the Old City. A police spokesman attributed the decline in violence to extreme vigilance, pre-emptive tactics and extensive intelligence coordination.