Unlawful Order

One of the oft-quoted military laws in Israel is the one of the “clear and evident unlawful order” (פקודה בלתי חוקית בעליל). A soldier must obey orders, but if he is given an order that is clearly unlawful, he is allowed to disobey the order. Many, on either side of the political fence, quote this law to serve and further their agenda. More often than not, the debate is what exactly constitutes an unlawful order and how is the soldier supposed to recognize one.

Yesterday, the human rights group B’Tselem released a video showing an Israeli soldier shooting a blindfolded and bound Palestinian in the foot at short range. The soldier claimed in his interrogation today that he received a direct order from the Lieutenant Colonel holding the Palestinian. If indeed this claim is true, then this video and the soldier’s actions should be used in military academies as an example of what an unlawful order is. The soldier should have refused to execute on this order, if indeed this was the order he received.

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