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IDF General Addresses Ma’ayanot About ‘Ethics in the Field’

Leading up to Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Br. General Bentzi Gruber, vice commander (reserves) of Division 252, an armored division of 20,000 soldiers, addressed students at Ma’ayanot on Tuesday, April 10 about “Ethics in the Field,” an organization he established to shatter myths and inform the international community about the ethical standards and moral integrity of the Israeli military.

General Gruber discussed the eight seconds Israeli soldiers have to make decisions in the field. When faced with a potential threat, Israeli soldiers must answer three questions: Are we using force only to accomplish our mission? Is the force being used against the enemy and not civilians? Is the collateral damage proportional to the immediate threat?

To demonstrate the complicated nature of an immediate response, General Gruber showed the students a series of videos in which Israeli soldiers had to decide whether or not to shoot and destroy a target. In one video, a suicide bomber crossed a border from Gaza and drove a jeep toward civilians. In another, seven terrorists climbed into a United Nations ambulance for cover.

“If you have a doubt, you don’t shoot, even if you’re taking a risk,” General Gruber said.

The choices soldiers make in the field have the potential to stay with them forever, he added. “We have to fight, but we have to remain human beings.”

General Gruber shared that his inspiration to serve came from his parents, who were Holocaust survivors. “My father and grandfather would have given everything to serve in the Jewish army in Israel. It’s so important and so unique that after two thousand years we can fight and win.”

“I learned a valuable lesson about the impact of your actions,” commented Atara Weil, a sophomore. “When fighting a war, each act of force required is an action each soldier has to live with, and the IDF understands that. I have a much stronger appreciation for the Israeli army because they care about the lives and health of their soldiers as well as that of innocent civilians.”

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