Malachi Rosenfeld was just driving home with three of his friends, on their way back from a basketball game, when it happened.
A car passed right next to theirs as the four unsuspecting friends - all of them residents of the village of Kochav Hashachar - laughed and joked together, tired but in good spirits. How bittersweet: Malachi spent the last hours of his tragically short life happy, content, like any other 25-year-old guy, among his close friends.
And then the shots rang out. Again. And again. And all that ended.
No - bitter, not bittersweet.
A moment later Malachi lay dying, his blood mixing with those of his friends as they screamed in agony from their own wounds. The car, severely damaged, ground to a halt, and one of Malachi's friends watched in horror as the terrorists considered whether to go back and "finish the job." Thankfully they did not, opting to drive away and live to murder another day, instead of running the risk of being intercepted by the Israeli army.
After all, heroic Palestinian freedom fighters don't do nearly as well against soldiers as they do against unarmed civilians.
Overhead that evening, as word spread of the attack, I heard the military helicopters pass over my home in Shiloh, just a few short minutes' drive from the site of the murder, which occurred outside Shvut Rachel on the next hill. I knew it was bad; a helicopter can only mean one thing - someone needs to make it to the hospital right now, or they may well die.
And today, less than 24 hours after he was critically injured, Malachi Rosenfeld did die of his injuries.
Malachi. 25 years old. In the prime of his life. Gunned down purely because he was a Jew. A Jew driving just a few kilometers away from the first capital of ancient Israel, Shiloh, where the sages of western journalism and the Stormtroopers of Arab-Islamic colonialism believe Jews have no right to be.
Malachi was only the latest victim of a recent spate of terror attacks by Muslim terrorists in Israel. Of course, even prior to this recent "spate," terrorism against Jews by Muslims is nothing new here; but this past Ramadan, which isn't even halfway gone yet, has been particularly violent (not just in Israel, of course - in France, Tunisia, Kuwait...)
And amid the ongoing pattern of so-called "lone wolf" attacks involving knives, cars, and occasionally guns, in the past two weeks a clear pattern has emerged here in the Binyamin region, in the hills of Samaria just north of Jerusalem.
It began two weeks ago, when two Jewish hikers from the central Israeli city of Lod visited a natural spring, where their ancestors once walked. As they left to return home, a Palestinian Arab man waved their car down, apparently in need of assistance.
They stopped - Jews love to help people. He approached them and began asking for water and then, having confirmed the two men were indeed Israeli Jews, pulled out a gun and started shooting from point-blank range.
Danny Gonen was killed and his friend injured, left for dead. The terrorist, meanwhile, escaped to a nearby Arab village.
(Four days earlier I had been driving just a few miles from the scene of that attack, when a Palestinian man attempted to flag me down. My instinct, too, was to stop and help - after all, that's what every good Jewish boy is taught to do - but something held me back: Vague memories of stories from the Second Intifada in which well-intentioned Israelis were murdered or carjacked after stopping to help an ostensibly stranded Palestinian motorist. So I drove on; why risk it? I felt a little bit bad at the time - I don't any more.)
In between those two deadly attacks was another attack, also in Binyamin, and with the same modus operandi but thankfully with a far less tragic outcome.
As an Israeli ambulance drove towards the town of Bet El, next to Ramallah and less than half an hour north of Jerusalem, ambulance driver Shalom Galil noticed an Arab man standing by the side of the road.
He recounted what happened next to Arutz Sheva:
"I returned from Ofra, which is a few kilometers north of Beit El," Galil said. "This was on a new highway that was recently opened. The terrorist was standing outside his vehicle, with the car's motor running. Without shame, without trying to hide and boldly looking at me, he drew his weapon, and began shooting."
Shots fired, at point-blank range, by an Arab terrorist who immediately sped away in his vehicle, in the Binyamin region. Only this time, the target was an ambulance.
After all, brave Palestinian freedom fighters stand a much better chance against Israeli ambulances than military checkpoints.
Thank God, Galil miraculously escaped unharmed, though his ambulance was peppered with bullets.
(I passed the ambulance on the way to work in Bet El the next morning. It was parked just outside the town - I'm not sure why. Let me tell you: the sight of an ambulance peppered with bullet holes - one of which was located where the driver's head could easily have been - is a chilling sight to behold.)
The strikingly similar tactics - the brazenness, the cold-blooded nerve to approach a vehicle to make sure its occupants are Jewish and not Arab-Israelis - and the fact that all of the attacks took place within a radius of just a few miles, has led the security services to believe all three are the act of an organized terrorist cell, not individual "lone wolves."
But regardless, the attacks are actually evidence of something much more fundamental to understanding the struggle here in the Middle East: Palestinian Privilege.
Consider: All of this happened as the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces during last summer's Operation Protective Edge were being scrutinized under a microscope, and then inevitably condemned, by the UN's kangaroo court of tyrants, the ironically-named UN Human Rights Council.
Grim-faced, the protectors of human rights from Algeria, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the EAU and Venezuela passed their harsh judgement against the Jewish (but that's just incidental) state's actions to stop incessant rocket fire against its civilians, and to prevent cross-border assaults by terrorists emerging from tunnels dug with just one purpose: to kill, maim and kidnap as many Israelis as possible.
And standing by their side, the liberals of Europe nodded their assent, sighing as they felt the yoke of guilt for the crimes of the twentieth century shift just slightly from their shoulders.
Palestinian privilege: when you can hide behind civilians, establish military bases and bunkers and rocket launchers in schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes - and still walk away guilt-free from the consequences of your actions.
Palestinian privilege: when your complaints about Jews building on land that was never yours in the first place elicit loud, vociferous headlines and cries of support - but if you shoot at an ambulance no one bats an eyelid.
Palestinian privilege: when you can shoot up a car full of innocent, unarmed civilians, coldly execute an innocent nature lover on a hike, cut off the heads of infant children or crush their little skulls with rocks, butcher innocent worshippers at prayer - and yet still your "cause" remains whiter than white, a cause celebre among the chic and the liberal.
Palestinian privilege: when your towns and villages are built atop the ruins of an ancient, indigenous Jewish civilization - some still carrying their original Hebrew names (Susyia, Hevron, Jerusalem, Bethlehem), or bastardized versions of them (Battir/Betar; Anata/Anatot; Beitin/Bet El; Beit Jalla/Gilo) - and yet you are still able to claim that those who came before you are "occupiers" while you are the "natives."
Palestinian privilege: when massacres by your co-religionists committed against white Europeans or even other Muslims are called "terrorism," but your acts of brutality against the Jew are merely "militant."
Without understanding Palestinian privilege it is impossible to grasp the root of the conflict here in the Middle East, why it grinds on with such a grim inevitability, why all facts and figures displayed by Israel advocates are ignored, to their utter incredulity.
It must be confronted, by every Jew who cares about his or her people, indeed by every decent human being who truly cares about human rights, honesty and justice.
We owe it to Malachi, we owe it to Danny, and we owe it to ourselves.