Responding to Attack, IDF Revives Rules on Vigilance

Workers set fences at the spot where a Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of IDF soldiers, killing four, on Monday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Although IDF investigators have established that soldiers did open fire on the terrorist who carried out an attack on soldiers at the Armon Hanatziv scenic walk in Yerushalayim, there is a great deal of discomfort in the army due to the images showing the soldiers fleeing in the face of the attack, IDF sources told the NRG news site Monday. As a result, the army is reexamining its policies on how to respond in cases of sudden terror attacks, and is stressing the need for watchfulness.

“We are not criticizing anyone for the results of Sunday’s attack,” an IDF source told the site. “What this teaches us is that we must review procedures and possibly update them for new situations. Even if we are not seeking to place blame, we do need to examine the circumstances and upgrade our responses.”

One of those responses is to increase vigilance when on patrol, or even when on an educational trip to Yerushalayim, for that matter. In such situations, at least two people will be stationed at the back of a group, watching the situation behind the group. “At all times we need two people who are checking the situation behind a group,” the official said, adding that this was actually a long-standing rule. “Whenever things are quiet, as they have been, there is a fall in tension and we pay less attention to things.” One lesson of the attack, said the source, was how important paying attention really is.

An initial inquiry into Sunday’s terror truck-ramming attack in Armon Hanatziv indicates that a number of soldiers opened fire on the terrorist as he rammed through a crowd of IDF soldiers on an educational trip to Yerushalayim. During the event, one of the commanders ordered soldiers to take cover, even as some were shooting at the terrorist. Others ran spontaneously from the scene as they realized what was happening, footage taken by security cameras showed.

Large cement blocks seen at the entrance to the east Yerushalayim neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, on Monday, following Sunday’s terror attack. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman visited soldiers still in the hospital due to injuries sustained in the attack. Speaking at Hadassah-Ein Kerem Hospital, Netanyahu said that “the most important thing for us to remember is that we are facing a new kind of attack, an attack by a lone wolf who decided spontaneously to carry out a terror attack – in this case, a truck-ramming attack.”

Israel was prepared to meet this threat, and the most important element in fighting it, Netanyahu said, was its human resources. “When I spoke with the injured soldiers, they had one request – please, let us return as soon as possible to our officer’s course, we want to continue to serve. This is our real secret. It is this determination that has brought us to this point, and will see us into the future.”

Speaking at the scene of the attack Sunday, Netanyahu said that there “definitely could be a connection” between this attack and recent truck-ramming attacks in France and Germany.

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