An officer and a hero

Shapira put his kids to sleep when he heard gunfire at Mercaz Harav.

hero officer shapira 224 (photo credit: )
hero officer shapira 224
(photo credit: )
As the tragic events of Thursday began to become more clear, it became increasingly obvious that the hero of the evening was Paratroopers Capt. David Shapira, a father of two young children who proved to be the right man in the right place during the bloody attack. Shapira was supposed to have been at his base, but he left to perform errands for his battalion, trading places with another officer for the weekend. The 29-year-old operations officer in the 890th Battalion had just bathed his children, and had put one of them to sleep when he heard explosions coming from the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva across the street. Although he first thought the noise was from pre-Purim firecrackers, he quickly realized that the explosions were gunshots. Grabbing his service weapon, he ran out of the house toward the yeshiva where he himself had studied. At the entrance to the yeshiva in the capital's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, Shapira ran into a group of police officers who were standing outside the building, listening to the gunshots from inside. They warned him not to go in, but Shapira pushed them aside and entered. The officer tracked the terrorist to the library, and, according to his own account, got within two to three meters of his target. Shapira shot 16 bullets at the terrorist, immediately neutralizing him. And then - like any good officer - Shapira notified his commander. He called the head of the 890th Battalion, and informed him that he had neutralized the terrorist - and was searching the area to make sure that other terrorists had not taken cover in the building. And with that - at least from the perspective of the young officer - his role was over. He and his wife, Hodaya, who is in the late stages of pregnancy, planned a quiet weekend together. But on Friday, Shapira received a phone call from an admirer with roots deep in the Paratrooper's longtime rival, the Golani Brigade. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi called to express his admiration for Shapira's actions - and to hear firsthand an account of the events of the night before. Ashkenazi expressed admiration for the "fast and correct" way in which the captain responded to the attack, adding that this is how he expects "any officer to behave, whether in his unit, on the roads or on leave." "In your actions," Ashkenazi told Shapira, "you brought expression to the values of the spirit of the IDF. You demonstrated personal leadership, determination, calmness, bravery and pursuit of your enemy until he was neutralized."