Fearing kidnappings, IDF launches anti-hitching campaign aimed at troops (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By STUART WINER 05/07/12)
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In response to warnings of terror group intentions to snatch army
personnel, video and posters urge troops to avoid taking rides with
Employing jarring images and shocking warnings, the IDF is launching
an awareness campaign aimed at preventing soldiers from being
kidnapped by terror groups while hitching a ride.
Under the slogan ‘Don’t catch a ride, it could catch you,’ the
campaign will include posters, videos, a dedicated website, and make
use of social media tools on the Internet to highlight what is seen
as a significant threat to service personnel. The IDF hopes that mock
images of a kidnapped soldier will stir awareness of the inherent
dangers in taking rides from unfamiliar drivers.
The move comes in response to increased warnings that terror groups
are seeking to kidnap IDF soldiers to use as a bargaining chip in
their efforts to release Palestinian prisoners. The threats have
gained more weight and urgency recently due to the mass hunger
strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
They also gained currency in the wake of the Gilad Shalit deal, in
which over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them with blood on
their hands, were exchanged for a single kidnapped Israeli soldier.
According to the IDF, since the beginning of 2011 there have been 21
confirmed attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers.
At the heart of the campaign is a video clip, released on Sunday
night to internet sites and social media networks, that shows a
kidnapped soldier reading a prisoner statement to the camera. Posters
will be displayed at bus and railways stations in the coming days.
The clip is reminiscent of similar videos of kidnap victims made by
terror groups around the world and in particular, of Shalit, who was
held captive for five years before his 2011 release.
IDF sources said they are aware that the ‘kidnap’ video clip will
provoke strong reactions due to its sensitive nature but also hope
that the debate surrounding it will encourage family and friends of
soldiers to convince service members to avoid taking rides with
Many soldiers returning to base or traveling home during leave prefer
to hitch rides from passing drivers rather than wait for public
transport, although the practice is forbidden under IDF regulations.
Soldiers in uniform are allowed to ride free on most public
In 1994, IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman was kidnapped by Palestinian
terrorist while hitchhiking. Wachsman was killed during a failed
rescue mission by the IDF six days after his capture. Jihad Yarmur,
one of terrorists convicted of murdering Wachsman, was released in
2010 as part of the exchange for Shalit.
According to Yediot, the IDF is clamping down on hitchhiking troops,
including reserve soldiers. Soldiers caught hitching for rides can be
court martialed and face up to 28 days confined to camp. (© 2012 THE
TIMES OF ISRAEL 05/07/12)
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