Your headline “IDF prosecutor: There was no need for soldier in Hebron to kill terrorist” (March 30) seems to predetermine the outcome of the case. The article goes on to say that “there was no military need” for his actions.
So what possible defense does the young soldier have? For months, all Israelis have been under stress from attacks and the possibility of being attacked with knives, scissors, cars and bombs. The army and police have been on the frontlines defending against these acts; many have been attacked and/or witnessed fellow Israelis and friends being attacked, perhaps even mortally wounded.
Feelings run high even when a situation seems under control.
Perhaps the soldier was reacting to the whole history of these events instead of the specific situation he came upon.
The following shows how a young person can act upon his feelings.
When we met Ephraim, he was a man in his 80s who had recently lost his wife. Professionally, he was a writer and a band leader. He decided to visit Israel and reconnect with his Judaism.
At the end of his visit, he came to say goodbye and shared the following story.
As a young man during World War II, he fought in Europe. At the end of the war, he was assigned to scour the countryside for Nazis in hiding. He came across two farmers, a father and son. They denied having anything to do with the Nazis. Ephraim felt they were lying, but he let them go. Yet as he watched them walk away, he raised his rifle and killed them both.
No one accused him of a lack of “operational need” for his action. He never incurred any penalty at all. Yet 60 years later, he still expressed regret that he had taken the lives of two human beings.
In times of war, soldiers on both sides return home to civilian life. In times of terrorism, the terrorist returns home, just to attack again.
ELISHEVA BORENSON Jerusalem
We in Israel are at war! As to the supposedly innocent, defenseless terrorist who was shot, his intention had been to kill Jews, an act said by many Muslims to entitle one to a reward as a “martyr” in his heaven.
This terrorist, had he survived, would have come back to claim his reward by striking again.
The young soldier acted with our people’s safety in mind. Kol hakavod! Had it been me, I would have been too scared to react as he did and would have let my fellow Jews down.
God gave him the courage to do what he did for the sake of his people. He is a hero. God bless him.
DENISE TOBIAS Ra’anana
I have been following this story, and while I don’t pretend to be a legal expert, my conclusion is crystal clear: If there was any doubt whatsoever in the soldier’s mind – however small and however subjective – the shooting was justified. Why? Because of the context.
This was not a neutral or low-risk situation involving any concept of “benefit of the doubt.” The dead terrorist came to kill. That was his absolute and clear intention.
It is entirely plausible and possible that such an individual would wear a suicide belt, and the soldier’s operational response to any kind of perceived movement was totally justified. Indeed, one could argue that any non-response could be deemed reckless and a dereliction of his duty to protect his comrades and bystanders.
If we are prepared to put our soldiers into these situations, we must also be prepared to back them and trust their judgment. To do otherwise would be moral cowardice and rank hypocrisy.
DANIEL B. MYERS Netanya
On February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Arabs in Hebron and wounded another 125. When he was overpowered, he was beaten to death. He was already no threat to his killers, but the Israeli authorities made no effort to prosecute them. The general feeling at the time was that Goldstein got what he deserved.
The feeling today generally is that the Arab terrorist who was shot by our soldier got what he deserved. So simply for consistency and fairness, the authorities should treat the soldier as they treated the killers of Goldstein.
I believe that the soldier did more to slow down the stabbings than all the speeches delivered by our Knesset members. If he received the full support of the army and country, it could indeed lead to the end of the current terror spree.
DUNN RABINOWITZ Rehovot
I would be most interested to know how you determined, as stated in your caption to the picture accompanying “IDF prosecutor: There was no need for soldier in Hebron to kill terrorist,” that those were “right-wing protesters” who were demonstrating outside the courtroom where the soldier appeared on Tuesday.
Did you take a survey based on a random sample? Did you ask anyone, or was your assessment based on some internal wisdom? Do you really believe that the Center, Center-Left and Left are bereft of any sense of fairness and justice when our soldiers are accused of wrongdoing and vilified and convicted in our media, even before they get a hearing? VICTORIA DAUBERT Jerusalem Jeff Barak’s ad hominem invective (“Hebron killing was not a one-off event,” Reality Check, March 28) contrasts with the more sober conclusion of the same day’s editorial (“Hebron’s lesson”).
Without waiting for the results of an official inquiry, Barak sets himself up as judge, jury and hangman, adopting the Palestinian Authority’s use of the term “extra-judicial execution.” His built-in leftist prejudice is revealed when he speaks of the government’s “hounding of human rights groups such as B’tselem,” which sees fit to employ hostile Arabs, and Breaking the Silence, whose members are clearly engaged in besmirching our servicemen.
Barak insists that “there can be a diplomatic solution” to Palestinian terrorism. Since he evidently has one in mind that will not result in Israel’s destruction, let him reveal its precise terms. If he refuses the challenge, we can at least be thankful that he is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.
GABRIEL A. SIVAN Jerusalem
The near-daily murderous attacks by Palestinian terrorists against Israeli soldiers and civilians demonstrates that the army and government are unable to keep the peace and guarantee the safety of Israelis, wherever they live.
Senior officials claim that there is no way to effectively combat this “knife intifada,” but I would beg to differ. As the violence between Israel and the Palestinians rages on, with no end in sight, the Palestinians and others have demanded that the United Nations take a more active role in order to stem the violence.
I could not agree more – the status quo is simply not sustainable, and it is high time we listened, for a change, to the international community.
To that end, I propose that the UN immediately commission and issue a report detailing the measures that Russia, Iran and Syria employ against terrorists operating in their respective countries. I am confident that if the UN makes Israel implement the report’s findings in their entirety, Palestinian terrorism will cease in record time, and calm and security will be permanently restored to our streets.
KENNY FISHER Jerusalem