…separate me from the utter and sheer panic I would have at reading this news report:
An Arab rushed a group of IDF soldiers at the Tzufim checkpoint near Kalkilya and attempted to stab one of the soldiers. The Arab was shouting anti-Jewish slogans and curses as he attacked. The soldier called for the Arab to stop, and when he refused, shot the Arab, injuring him moderately.
That was, for many months, Elie’s checkpoint, Elie’s base. I can’t count how many times I drove there – to bring him home, to drop him off, to bring Elie and his soldiers brownies and cakes. Once it was Elie who shouted in the air for an Arab to stop; Elie’s soldier who fired in the air when the Arab continued, and Elie who loaded his gun and aimed it at the Arab as he came closer and closer.
On that day, the Arab slammed on the brake second before Elie would have fired. The Arab stopped, realizing that he would never make it through, and Elie’s life was not changed for ever. I didn’t get a call telling me he’d used his gun and thankfully didn’t get a call that he was hurt. Instead, he came home as was expected and only in conversations later did he tell me of what had almost happened.
No, that Arab did not scream “Allahu Akhbar” and on that day, the soldiers didn’t have to shoot anyone. His intention was to get through the checkpoint, not murder a soldier and so the driver was searched and released.
A year and a few months and still my eyes fill with tears of pain and anger. Pain because there is another soldier’s mother who got the call that her son was lightly injured. What does that mean – lightly injured? Was he cut? How badly? Where? Will he be left with a scar? Did he need stitches? Even now, a few hours later, is he back on base, in the hospital, at home? And there are other mothers thanking God that the Arab didn’t succeed in stabbing their sons. Anger because it never seems to end. Anger because our soldiers are commanded to show restraint against murder attempts and so the Arab is shot in the legs after trying to stab a soldier in the chest.
Anger because human rights organizations will add to the tally of the wounded this wanna-be murderer. And after the anger comes the gratitude because I might instead now be dealing with the sorrow of having the Arab succeed.
The attacker is in moderate condition – lucky that he chose to attack the Israeli army and not Palestinians, Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans. There is no question the Israeli soldiers could have as easily aimed for his chest as for his legs. Protocol and adherence to our own standards of warfare enabled that Arab to be taken to an Israeli hospital. He will be nursed back to health and then put on trial for attempted murder. His name will be added to the list of those Hamas wants returned to them.
Whatever the future holds, today the soldiers acted properly – and with restraint. Today, in addition to my feeling grateful, there is an Arab mother somewhere who should fall down on the ground with gratitude – not to the Arab culture that sent her son to murder, but he Jewish culture that required our sons to shoot at his legs and not his heart.
As for me…a year and a few months…not nearly long enough for the panic and sadness to fade easily away.