In Wake of Deadly Jerusalem Truck-Ramming Attack, Questions Arise About Soldiers’ ‘Reluctance’ to Shoot Terrorist
A tour guide accompanying the group of IDF soldiers targeted in Sunday afternoon’s truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem — who shot at the terrorist driving the vehicle — expressed dismay that the armed military men and women at the scene were “reluctant” to use their weapons, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
In an interview with the news outlet after being treated at the hospital for injuries to his hand, leg and face, Eitan Rund called it “sad” that none of the dozens of IDF officers’ course cadets behaved similarly — though an initial IDF investigation revealed that two soldiers actually did neutralize and kill the terrorist.
Rund recounted running towards the truck, standing in front of it, drawing his pistol and opening fire. At that point, he said, he was hit by the truck and fell to the ground, but continued to shoot, until he ran out of bullets.
Rund said that even though he had emptied his magazine, the terrorist continued to drive. “If I’d had a second to think, I would have taken one of the [soldier’s] rifles…To tell you the truth, it’s really lucky that [my injuries] didn’t hurt at the time the way they do now.”
Giving his take on the soldiers’ alleged hesitance, Rund told the Hebrew news site nrg that he can’t help thinking it was connected to the case of Sgt. Elor Azaria, convicted Wednesday of manslaughter and unbecoming behavior for the March 24 shooting of a subdued Palestinian terrorist near Hebron in the West Bank.
“There were dozens of soldiers with M-16s there and nevertheless, they paused,” he said. “They waited for me to shoot first, and only then did some follow suit.”
He said he thought they acted this way out of fear of indictment. “The only thing they keep hearing is to be careful. There is no doubt that at least some of them were influenced by Azaria, and it pains me to say that some of those who were seriously wounded [ended up that way] because the terrorist was able to reverse [the truck] and hit them again. It could be that if the [response of the soldiers had been different], the situation would have been better. Soldiers are scared today; it’s not a pleasant sight.”
As The Algemeiner reported in November, an outcry erupted in the Israeli defense establishment following reports in the press about a new video instructing soldiers serving in the West Bank to avoid shooting female Palestinian terrorists – and opt for using krav maga instead.
Some called the tutorial clip “insane” and “delusional,” claiming that it is extremely dangerous for soldiers to come in physical contact with terrorists of any gender, as they might be carrying explosives or other weapons on their bodies.
One officer in the reserves said, “We are liable to pay a heavy price for formulating such directives.” He said that many soldiers have complained about being faced with nuances in calculations about when to shoot and when to engage in martial arts during real-time attacks. This, they told him, will make it unclear what is expected of them.
In Sunday’s attack, which took place at approximately 1:30 pm, at least four Israeli cadets in their early 20s, three female and one male, were killed and another 15 were wounded — some seriously — when an attacker rammed a truck into them at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem.
The victims — part of a group from an officers’ training course on an educational tour — had just gotten off a bus, and the terrorist sped up his vehicle and ran them over, then put the truck in reverse and tried to cause further damage.
The perpetrator, a resident of the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, was killed by Rund and apparently two soldiers at the scene. Reports from Gaza and the Palestinian Authority identified the terrorist as 28-year-old Fadi al-Qanbar, who had served time in an Israeli jail.
This is the worst terrorist attack that has happened in several months, amid a lull in the surge in Palestinian terrorism — known familiarly as the “lone-wolf intifada” — which began a year ago in September.