Letting other people's sons die

"I didn't fire at the terrorist because there was no proof and Ori died." And what if Ori were your son? What if that hesitation kills him?

Paula R. Stern,

Paula Stern
Paula Stern
INN:PS

Do you want to know why it might very well be reasonable that the soldier shot the terrorist?  Maybe it was justified, maybe it was an error in understanding the commands,  but read this. THIS is what our sons have to endure...and if they make the wrong decision in the seconds they have to make a decision, they can pay for it with their lives, either by being murdered in court or in the Israeli media and courts.

This was posted in Hebrew to Dror Zicherman's Facebook page and translated into English.

Dror Zicherman’s Facebook post

All right. I have to get something off my chest that’s been there for two days already — roughly since I heard about the soldier who made sure that a terrorist who had tried to murder him was dead.

Before I do that, I want to state that I have told very few people some of what I’m about to write in this post, but the feeling that I must write it now is flooding me from inside. And now I’m going to share it:

On December 29, 2005, I was on a routine patrol team that was part of the ongoing operations that my battalion was carrying out in the Tulkarm sector, where I was serving.

During the patrol, I received a warning that terrorists were planning to commit a terror attack at a Hanukkah show, so Ori Binamo, of blessed memory, decided to set up a surprise checkpoint at the southern exit from the city of Tulkarm.

We received an explicit order to inspect every vehicle coming from Tulkarm that was heading toward Israel. The main thing we were looking for was the birth year of the suicide bomber: 1976 (which was the intelligence information received, ed.). We did as ordered, checking every vehicle carefully.

Fifty minutes after the checkpoint had been set up, a Palestinian taxi arrived. It was carrying eight passengers.

I took their ID cards from them, and on inspecting them I found that one of them bore the birth year 1976.

Immediately we ordered the passengers in the taxi to get out so that we could inspect them.

We inspected the first three passengers. When we saw that they were not carrying any weapons, we told them to stand aside.

The fourth passenger was wearing a leather coat. Even though it was December, the weather that day was warmer than usual.

That passenger was a suicide terrorist on his way to carry out an attack at one of the Hanukkah shows. (The terrorist and the other passengers had permits to work in Israel. That is less relevant to the post, but it’s important to note.)

In any case, Ori wanted to check the passenger, but his leather coat made me extremely suspicious. During the inspection I aimed my weapon at the terrorist’s head. When Ori saw that I had aimed my weapon, we had a conversation that I’ll never forget.

Ori: Zicherman, you’re not shooting.

I: But he’s wearing a leather coat.

Ori: You’re not shooting. Period.

Of course, I listened to Ori and followed the rules, which stated that we could shoot only if there was positive identification.

A few seconds later, Ori turned toward the terrorist and began speaking to him in Hebrew.

Ori: Open your coat and show me your shirt.

The terrorist looked at him wide-eyed, as though he didn’t understand Hebrew. Ori then started shouting at him in Arabic, signaling me not to shoot, as I stood holding my weapon with a bullet in the chamber, aimed directly at the terrorist’s face. But I obeyed Ori and did not move.

Ori [in Arabic]: Ifra’ al bluza (Lift up your shirt).

The terrorist looked at me, looked back at Ori and made a movement as if he were about to lift up his shirt. But instead, he activated the detonator of the bomb he was carrying — an explosive that weighed almost 30 kilograms — and blew himself up at me and at Ori.

Ori was killed in the incident, and I was severely wounded.

The whole incident comes back to me every evening, years after it happened.

I obeyed orders. I did not fire at the terrorist because there was no positive identification.

I wanted very much to shoot him, but Ori, who was careful to obey orders, would not allow me to do it. Both of us paid dearly for it, he with his life and I with my health, all because I obeyed the rules of engagement and did not open fire on the terrorist even though I wanted very much to do so. That’s how I am; I’m not a rule-breaker.

Why am I sharing this? Because I’m fed up. I’m very frustrated with what’s been happening in our country over the past few months. Israeli army troops have been dealing for months with the dilemma of whether to neutralize terrorists or make sure that they are dead, and each time the same commentators on the various television channels debate about "the kind of society we have become."

As I see it, the incident that took place on Saturday is the worst it’s ever been. A soldier shoots a terrorist and makes sure that he is dead, and all the media outlets post “atrocity photos” of the “execution,” as if the soldier had executed some innocent passerby who had done nothing.

One television commentator says that the soldier is a fan of The Shadow [the nickname of rap artist Yoav Eliasi, who made controversial statements following the terror attack on Bus 78 in Jerusalem in October] and of Ben-Zion Gopstein [head of Lehava, a controversial anti-assimilation organization] because he “liked” their Facebook page. Another commentator adds that the soldier had obeyed the chief rabbi, who said that it was forbidden to listen to the chief of staff or anyone of that sort (I don’t know whether the quote is exact).

Everyone vied with one another as to who was more shocked by the incident, and tried to look for excuses everywhere.

And the military establishment? It has distanced itself from him [the soldier]. People everywhere are trying to be good, saying that these are not the army’s procedures, that the Israeli army does not carry out executions.

That’s true. The army does not carry out executions. There was no execution. A soldier of the Israeli army made sure that a terrorist was dead.

That terrorist was also wearing a leather coat on a hot day.

That terrorist also moved his hand as if he were about to detonate a bomb.

The soldier did not kill an innocent civilian. He killed a person with the means and the intent to murder soldiers or random Israelis.

The procedures that they speak of in the Israeli army are a joke — a very bad joke.

Keep telling me about how our army is humane. But before you talk about the rules of engagement, remember that it’s because of those rules that Ori is gone and I’m severely wounded and suffering from PTSD.

Who knows? Maybe it would have been better to be considered a murderer (by the media and Amnon Abramovitch) than to be suffering from PTSD.

But in my opinion, that soldier is a hero, and I salute him. He killed a terrorist and prevented a future attack on innocent people.

Dear Reader, do you want to 'like' this post?

A few days ago, a soldier chose to open fire and a noted blogger, much like Abramovitch back in 2005, wrote on her Facebook page that the soldier should “rot in jail.” Those words have haunted me for days. Until I saw Dror’s post.

In 2005, a terrorist wearing a leather jacket on a hot day...murdered an Israeli soldier who had ordered another soldier to hold his fire and follow the rules of engagement.

A few days ago, a soldier didn't hold his fire and this investigation is being turned into a three ring circus by media outlets that care more about ratings than they do about Israel, more about the damn number of hits they get than the safety or future of a 19 year old boy and all I can say is someday your child, if you are lucky enough to have one, will be 19.

If you are still living here in Israel, he may serve in the army and if he chooses to go into a combat unit, as my three sons have chosen, then your son will be given a weapon and taught how and when to use it. If you are really lucky, he'll never be called on to raise it, point it...shoot it...and if he does...if there's even a tiny question, how will you feel when the first words out of someone's mouth is that he should "rot in jail?"

Well, Ori isn't rotting in jail, he's rotting in the ground because all these people who think they know better forced it into his head not to fire, to push back the suspicion until there is no doubt. No doubt which can only be proven after the explosion - after Ori died and Dror is scarred for life.

I have never been so nauseated in my life from the selfish, "holier than thou" attitude of people who know nothing but dare to judge and convict others. And shame on the army for allowing it. For the first time in my life, I'm thinking about pushing to get my son out of a combat unit. You don't deserve him, IDF, if this is what you do. If you abandon them to save your image, then 19-year-olds don’t belong in your army.


You don't deserve him, IDF, if this is what you do. If you abandon them to save your image, then 19-year-olds don’t belong in your army.
If a mistake was made last week, it could have gone either way. We could be burying a terrorist who had already hurt one soldier and would likely hurt another if given a chance; or we coud be burying another soldier like Lieutenant Ori Binamo, who was 21 years old when he was murdered. He is remembered as a hero who gave his life to foil a terror attack but, as you can see from what Dror writes, Ori didn’t really have to die. It could be that if Dror  fired and his instincts were wrong, that that journalist who doesn’t want to be called a journalist would have called for Dror to 'rot in jail' for the rest of his life. But we know now, after the explosion, that Dror was right. In Dror’s case, there was suspicion and nothing more than a year of birth. They were looking for a 19 year old Arab and because Dror didn’t fire, Ori died. 

In Hevron last week, there was more than a suspicion. There was a confirmed attack and the soldier fired. How many more sons will we bury because the faint-hearted and the left wing apply American-style ”beyond reasonable doubt” meant for civilian life to a world in which that slight hesitation is enough to kill?

May God bless Ori’s memory and continue to heal Dror and please God, heal the sick minds and hearts of those who are ready to sacrifice the lives or other people’s sons.




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