In response to the murders of Menahem Levi, Aharon Benet, Eitam and Neama Henkin and all the victims of terror in the past week in Israel, I want to share one of the many moments from my military service, when my battalion was stationed near the city of Ramallah.
Every Friday, there were protests against the Israeli west bank security fence. Our task was to prevent the Arab protesters from damaging and breaching the security fence, built to protect Israel during and after the Intifada.
On the sixth anniversary of the building of the fence, there were even bigger protests against the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria and the situation quickly got out of hand.
I remember my soldiers and I standing in front of a large mob trying to prevent them from reaching and cutting the metal of the fence. Our weapons were on our backs, but were not loaded because it was a civilian protest. Our orders where to use "non-lethal force only".
While we stood there absorbing the shower of stones that whistled above our heads and in our ears, one of my soldiers asked me "why are we doing this?”
Why were we risking our lives without any way to defend ourselves to protect a fence? This also came several days after one of our soldiers was hit by a stone which caused him severe wounds.
My soldier’s question hit me like one of those stones; maybe he was right. Why am I standing here in front of kids and adults with hate in their eyes, risking not only my life but the lives of my five soldiers who themselves were just kids, only eighteen years old? And I was much older, at twenty years old.
I answered him from my heart, without thinking.
"Right now this is our job, to stand and protect Israeli citizens from any person that would want to hurt them without any remorse. This is what we signed up for when we joined a combat unit in the IDF. This is what generations of soldiers did before us and will do after us. The risks, that we might die or be injured in our combat, we took into consideration when we signed on, or at least we should have."
The really shocking thing to me, in that moment, was that my soldier didn’t panic or get angry. He looked at me, smiled and said: “You are right” and we continued standing there under the shower of stones, together.
So, yes, I was ready to sacrifice my life, for Israel, because this is part of being a combat soldier. That is what I signed up for as a soldier but civilians do not sign up for this, they are only signing up to live their lives, peacefully.
I will never understand how a person can kill an innocent mother and father in front of their four young children. How can a man kill a baby? How can terrorists aim their missiles at civilian targets, at Israeli targets, Jews, Bedouin, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Israelis.
This is not humane. In the darkness of night, the darkness of humanity is revealed.
I can only wish the Henkin children a life without any more sorrow and pain if it is at all possible.
Let us remember all the victims of terror that have been injured and harmed this past week and let us never forget the names of Eitam and Neama Henkin that were shot and killed in the West Bank, and Nechemia Levi and Aharon Benet that were murdered in the Old City of Jerusalem.
יהי זכרם ברוך