Do you remember when your mother would tell you to "put yourself in other people's shoes? Let's put that recommendation into action for just a few moments.


Close your eyes and visualize yourself as an Israeli soldier; wearing your Olive green uniform with an M16 strapped over your shoulder. Aside from the traditional rock-throwing competition towards you by local Palestinians, today seems like any other boring day in the life of a soldier at a military checkpoint.
Sometime in the late afternoon, a Palestinian man is walking towards the checkpoint for a typical entry inspection. Something about this man, however, raises your eyebrows. His selection of clothing looks out of place for such a warm and sunny day. To get more specific, he is wearing the sort of thick jacket you would wear on a cold, windy day in December. You cannot help but be suspicious as to why this man would choose to wear such a thick piece of clothing on a day like this.​

So it is pretty obvious at this point that this man is hiding something from you. Looking back at your fellow soldiers whom at this point, have taken notice of the man, you make the decision to ask him aside to complete a more thorough inspection. Little do you know however this man is not planning on getting arrested quietly; he has but one desire in his life: to kill as many Jews as he can. All of a sudden, he draws a knife and bolts towards your fellow soldier!

A chain of events that seems to last for an eternity unfolds in a matter of seconds. Everything around you seems to happen in a blur. The next thing you know, the man is shot and falls to the ground, immobilized, but very much alive.

The threat appears neutralized, but there's no time to celebrate because just a few seconds after hitting the ground, the terrorist begins to move his hand, potentially reaching for something you cannot see.
Your mind travels thirteen years back in time when terrorists would conceal explosives beneath their jackets and then detonate themselves in crowded areas, such as markets, restaurants, and yes, even busy checkpoints.

You are now forced to make a potentially life-altering decision within a matter of seconds! Your knee-jerk instincts tell you to play it safe and kill the terrorist, guaranteeing that if he does have an explosive vest on, he will not take you and several other soldiers with him in a suicide attack.

Another option is to simply not think too much about it, pretend you never saw him move, assume that his jacket was meant to conceal his knife and nothing else. Surely this seems like the more reasonable decision, after all, the man is not near any civilians, what harm could he cause?
So is that the logical choice? Yes, in most circumstances at least it is. However, let's think in the "what if" mindset for a moment. What if this man were wearing a suicide vest when he was shot dead? Even more importantly, what if he was not killed and was wearing an explosive vest?

I subscribe to the notion that unless I witness a shooting, whether it be a police officer in Manhattan or an Israeli Soldier in Jerusalem, I have no right to judge that person's actions or intentions. I have no idea what that person might've seen and no idea what was going through their mind.

While it is not always easy to think of long-term ramifications in a situation as controversial as this, the consequences of hastily arriving at a verdict and throwing this soldier into prison have the potential to place Israeli society in great jeopardy. What happens if a similar situation were to play out a just a week later only this time, the man is wearing an explosive vest. Would we want our soldiers second guessing on whether or not to use lethal force on a potential suicide bomber?

It is completely illogical to believe that a soldier of democracy woke up one morning and said to himself, "I hope I get to kill a Palestinian today." Killing someone is an action that even soldiers with the hardest of hearts take very seriously.

Sure, some Israeli soldiers have beyond a reasonable doubt, committed atrocious acts. Just like any other military, those soldiers underwent a fair trial and paid the price for their actions. We should never make our mental convictions in a situation like this. I have full faith that the Israeli justice system will arrive at a fair and candid conclusion WITHOUT pressure from outside influences.

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of The Jerusalem Post. Blog authors are NOT employees, freelance or salaried, of The Jerusalem Post.

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