Exposed IDF Guidebook Instructs Soldiers to Behave Ethically Toward Civilians, Avoid Acts of Revenge
IDF commanders and soldiers received operation-specific instructions on respecting the dignity of civilians, avoiding acts of revenge-driven violence and other ethical issues.
A report by Israel’s Channel 2 on Sunday, day 20 of “Operation Protective Edge”, revealed a booklet which details the goals of the operation and the appropriate way for soldiers to conduct themselves on the battlefield.
The goal of the operation is “to hurt terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, to minimize casualties among the Israeli home front, while avoiding an escalation, all in an effort to improve the security reality in the South.” The booklet aims to “prepare [the commander’s] soldiers for carrying out the mission in an optimal manner.”
Among the subjects covered is the use of military force against civilians, acts of looting, avoiding cruelty to detainees, ill use of social media and even dealing with personal urges to carry out acts of revenge. The booklet contains questions like “how would you react if you witnessed an act of looting?” or “does reporting on your friend turn you into a snitch?”
The text emphasizes that “maintaining norms of ethical behavior is part of the professionalism demanded of IDF soldiers […] Apart from the moral aspect and the potential to hurt the dignity of civilians, as well as the principle of the purity of arms, instances of looting adversely affect the goals of the mission.”
When dealing with instructions on how to behave with civilians, the booklet emphasizes that the IDF “is fighting a terrorist infrastructure and not against residents who pose no threat. Sometimes the IDF faces missions where there is potential to hurt people’s dignity and the soldier in the field has a duty to do everything in his power to avoid this as much as possible.”
On revenge, the booklet cautions: “Every person contains within them the urge to carry out acts of revenge and this is natural. It is an urge especially hard to control when a soldier is in a situation where his comrade gets killed in front of his eyes. Revenge is not a military goal. The IDF is charged with the duty of defending the citizens of Israel and will carry out its mission professionally and determinedly according to the orders of the diplomatic echelon and without succumbing to popular pressure.”