Monday, December 07, 2009

Hostage situations

Today, Israeli soldiers killed an Israeli to prevent him from entering the Gaza Strip. Army policy is to kill Israelis in this situation, on the assumption that if they end up being held hostage, the resulting exchange of hostage for terrorists will result in the deaths of many more Israelis.

Now, I wonder: why exactly does this logic apply to anonymous Israelis, but suddenly disappear when Gilad Shalit is concerned?


micha berger said...

My understanding is that someone sent by Tzahal is treated as a special case. The reason being that it impacts morale, and thus life expectancy, to know one is fighting for an army that will do anything to get you back.

IOW, the heter WRT Gil'ad Shalit isn't for saying Gil'ad's life, but because it saves soldier's lives overall for the military to have such an ethic.

I am not asserting that this notion actually works, although I would guess the generals who set up this policy did actually put in the effort. I'm just explaining that given this assumption, it would make sense why the cases would be handled differently.

I also don't know if the main issue was to prevent a hostage situation, or to prevent an Israeli from killing Arabs and giving Hamas a motivation to retaliate.

Anyway, it sounds like the poor man was ill. It may have been suicide-by-soldier. In the US, ill people who committed suicide-by-police have irrevocably altered the lives of numerous policemen.


Beisrunner said...

You are correct, such differentiation does have a certain logic. But as you say, it's not clear whether it actually works. Soldiers have said in the past they would kill their comrades rather than let them be captured, which would seem to indicate they disagree with your argument. Thankfully, that has never been tested. I posted this incident because the killing of anyone, even not a soldier, helps show that this position is honestly held and not simply political rhetoric.

P.S. Since I posted it, the JPost article has been edited to remove the explanation of why the man was killed (which I summarized in my post).

Beisrunner said...

I'm not sure what you mean by that, but if I were kidnapped, I would not want to be exchanged for hundreds of terrorists. There is no evidence that Shalit himself wants it, except that Hamas says so. I feel for him and his family, but "concern" for him manifested in supporting such an unbalanced deal is misplaced.