Kidnapping of IDF Soldiers – Not Just Resistance, but Rescue

by Maskil on September 22, 2009

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According to an item on the Haaretz Israeli news Website (Should IDF shoot terrorists holding soldier captive? ), we should expect to see a change in the official IDF rules of engagement regarding attempts to kidnap soldiers.

In future, IDF units and members will be required to resist any kidnap attempt by means of force, even if opening fire puts the kidnapped soldier at risk of injury or loss of life. On the ground, some Israeli units (especially those stationed near Gaza) have already introduced their own standard operating procedures to that effect.

I waited for the other shoe to drop, but thus far it hasn’t. What was missing here is a formal policy that, in the event of the successful kidnapping of an IDF member (and once his (or her – may it never occur) whereabouts have been established, a rescue mission should be undertaken (or at least considered). Such a rescue should be attempted as soon as possible, and even if it could lead to injury or death for the kidnapped soldier. (There is, of course, also the risk that the unit undertaking the rescue could suffer casualties.)

While we all place the highest possible value on the life of each soldier, the national interest, our history in the 20th Century and our duty to the kidnapped soldier demand that such a rescue attempt be made, and that it be one of the first options to be considered. A rescue mission – even an unsuccessful one – must surely be preferable to three years of living hell for the victim and his kin, and three years of national humiliation and anguish for the country.

There was a time when it would almost have been taken for granted that the kidnapping of an Israeli (whether a soldier or not) was likely to result in an Israeli commando raid (and perhaps a little corrective bombing for good measure). In a sense, Israel wrote the early playbook when it comes to dealing with Arab and Islamist terrorism. The West now appears to be working from that playbook (e.g. the rescue of journalist Stephen Farrell from Afghan terrorists), while Israel appears to have abandoned it in favour of public pleading and the release of hundreds of blood- drenched murderers for little more than body parts.

Each episode of this nature sets the stage for the next incident. Each time, the price becomes steeper, the humiliation greater and the likelihood of a repetition greater. It’s time for Israel to up the stakes and change the rules once again. It’s not just about the rescue of a particular hostage; it’s about setting the price for the next one.

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