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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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A SOLDIER'S CONFESSION

‘I Aimed my Rifle Above the Rock-Throwing Arab Boy’s Head’

Today he might be terrorist, a peace-loving Arab. Or maybe he is a dead suicide bomber. In 1990, he was 8 years old when he hurled rocks at the bus I was guarding.
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Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash 90

I released the safety catch on the weapon and prepared to shoot.

Twenty-three years later, my oldest daughter is serving in the Air Force, inspecting and loading missiles on warplanes before they head to Gaza and Lebanon to eliminate – no, kill – terrorists. If she were a combat soldier facing an eight-year-old, Arab, rock-throwing terrorist, would I have said, “Be careful. If you don’t hit him, he will throw a bigger rock in your face tomorrow. But if you hit him, you will face questioning by the generals. The press will make a big deal out of it, and you might end up in the brig. Play it safe.”

And who knows what I would have told my other two younger children?

I pulled the  trigger and the rubber bullet sped ahead, right on target – above the boy’s head, just where I had aimed.

I chased after him, but he quickly blended into a flood of Arab villagers, and I was not about to shoot live ammunition into that crowd.

I always wonder what happened to that eight-year-old.

Perhaps he grew up to become a collaborator and is helping Israel. Or maybe he is a terrorist. Or maybe was killed in a suicide bombing. Better yet, maybe he left the country.

Maybe this and maybe that.

Do I regret not having shot the boy in the head? Not at all. I could not have lived a normal life afterwards.

Doesn’t that give the enemy an advantage, letting them know that they can have the upper hand and that we, Israeli Jews, appear to be afraid to defend ourselves, but in fact, are afraid of God’s judgment?

Yes, indeed.

It’s not easy being a Jew.

That’s why we’re here.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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