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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Warning: Stone throwers will be shot on sight

The Israeli cabinet today dealt with the phenomenon of pro-Hezbullah demonstrators on the Lebanese side of the Israel - Lebanon border throwing stones at troops and others on the Israeli side. Kind of like Edward Said.

It has always amazed me how lightly Israel takes rock throwers.

On June 11, 2001, 5-month old Yehuda Chaim Shoham HY"D died after being hit by a stone thrown at his parents' car near Shilo in Samaria. In Israel, the authorities say it's "only stones." In the rest of the world, throwing stones at a moving car is treated as it should be treated: attempted murder.

That's about to change on the Lebanese border, and maybe some day in Judea and Samaria too if we are really lucky. IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz told the cabinet today that IDF troops currently stationed in Lebanon have permission to open fire on stone-throwing Hizbullah supporters.
The chief of staff told cabinet ministers that according to the IDF directive, troops were permitted to fire in the air and then at the legs of those hurling rocks in their direction. In addition, in the event that the troops sensed that they were in real danger they were granted permission to shoot to kill.
What brought the IDF to its senses?
Cabinet ministers at Wednesday's weekly meeting were outraged over a protest Friday in which several dozen yellow-clad Hezbollah supporters on the Lebanese side of the border threw stones at soldiers on the Israeli side of the border. Some of the ministers criticized the army for not responding to the violent protest.


Minister Gideon Ezra said Wednesday that the situation in Lebanon escalated because Israel failed to respond to Hezbollah's deployment along the border following Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. Israel should not make the same mistake after it pulls out from southern Lebanon this time, he said.

"We can't accept any Hezbollah deployment to the [border] fence, not with stones, not with flags, and not with anything else," Ezra told Israel Radio. "We won't go back to the same situation that we had before. It's forbidden that we agree to such a trend, even if it means we have to take action."

But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brushed off the threat of stone-throwing Hezbollah supporters, saying none of the guerrilla group's fighters are wandering around south Lebanon armed.
The IDF and the cabinet apparently understand that "sticks and stones may break my bones," but the Prime Minister is still clueless. Let's hope this is extended into a general directive that allows Israelis who come under a hail of stones in Judea and Samaria to open fire. Believe it or not, today you risk arrest, prosecution and jail time for even firing into the air! But if the stone throwers knew that the drivers can open fire on them, they might think twice about throwing stones in the first place.


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