The four soldiers who were killed in the terrorist truck ramming on Sunday have been named:
Cadet Shir Hajaj (22) of Maaleh Adumim.
Cadet Shira Tzur (20) from Haifa.
Cadet Erez Orbach (20) from Alon Shvut.
Erez Orbach and Shira Tzur had joint Israeli-American citizenship.
All four were buried on Monday, in separate funerals. May their memories be for a blessing.
Every one of these terrorist murders, every innocent life that is taken in an act of hatred, is a tragedy. What I have observed, time after time, is that those who are destroyed in these terrorist acts are often special people.
Erez Orbach, for example, studied in Neve Shmuel Yeshiva in Efrat, then continued his studies in a Hesder yeshiva (combining study and army service). Because of medical problems, he was exempt from army service, but didn’t accept that. He fought for the right to serve, and made his way into officers’ training school.
A volunteer from ZAKA – an organization of selfless individuals who deal with bodies of the deceased, particularly those murdered in terror attacks – wrote a piece, anonymously, for the JPost on Tuesday. He was at the scene at Armon Hanatziv on Sunday – gathering the belongings of those who had been attacked, helping to determine which items belonged to which victims. And he said this:
“I was working alongside a close friend. Together we had attended countless grim scenes, but nothing prepared us for what happened next. As we assisted the forensic officer and army representative in identifying the body of a young officer, we heard the victim’s phone ring. On the screen are the words: Dad is calling…Dad is calling…Dad is calling…
“We held the phone as if frozen. We four have a lot of experience in handling disasters, but we fail to function.
“Dear pure and holy one, heaven bound, your father is looking for you, calling you endlessly. He still does not know that your Father in heaven has accepted you with a loving embrace.
“May your memory be for a blessing.”
This act of terror has been termed a “lone wolf” act, as it was thought to not have been done under the tutelage of a group such as Hamas. But an unknown Palestinian Arab group known as “the martyr of Baha Alyan collective” is claiming responsibility and saying the terrorist was part of their group; they are threatening more attacks. Baha Alyan was himself a terrorist (naturally).
Whether the terrorist belonged to that collective or not, it seems clear his act was not spontaneous – he didn’t just jump into his truck and decide to run over people. For members of his family are suspected of having known in advance what he planned. Several family members were taken into custody because it is thought they knew and yet failed to report his intentions. I believe his father has been released but his brothers are still being held.
This is frequently the case: the sentiments of the terrorist are shared by family members. His sister called what he did a “most beautiful martyrdom,” for which she thanked Allah.
The terrorist’s body will be buried, and not returned to his family for a funeral. Their home will be quickly destroyed. What I’d like to see – and will not – is that all of his family, all who knew of and condoned his act, would be sent far far away.
The behavior of the terrorist can be traced to multiple malign influences. Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested at the scene of the attack that the terrorist appeared to be an admirer of ISIS, and suggested the attack was similar to some of the recent attacks seen in Europe.
And we should not, ever, ignore the pervasive influence of the Palestinian Authority via its constant incitement. Very properly, Deputy Defense Minister Tzipi Hotovely fingered the PA education system. But let us not ignore statements by Mahmoud Abbas (our “partner for peace.”) Most recently, he has made threats with regard to president-elect Trump’s promise to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, saying it would cause a “new violent uprising.”
Yet it is not just Abbas – from whom I expect such statements – who has been saying this: It is also Secretary of State John Kerry, who said in a CBS interview:
“You’d have an explosion, an absolute explosion in the region, not just in the West Bank and perhaps even in Israel itself, but throughout the region. The Arab world has enormous interest in the Haram al-Sharif, as it is called, the Temple Mount, the Dome, and it is a holy site for the Arab world.”
I will come back to the matter of moving the US embassy to western Jerusalem below. What I ask here is why Kerry posits this as a concern for the Arab world, with its presumed devotion to the Temple Mount. For the Mount is in eastern Jerusalem, while, according to the “two state solution,” western Jerusalem, which is where the embassy would be, is supposed to remain in Israeli hands.
With this statement, he sets up a problem where none should exist even from his distorted two state perspective. Put more directly: Kerry is an inciter. He’s condoning violence by Arabs, justifying it. Hoping, of course, to discourage Trump from his promise. Were he truly a diplomat seeking peace, he would have warned the Arab world that under no circumstances would violence be sanctioned. But we know that this is not what he is. He is a vile man, and we’ll be as happy to say goodbye to him as to Obama on the 20th.
I want to return to the issue of soldiers who may be reluctant to shoot for fear of repercussions. That question was raised with regard to the terror attack on Sunday. When I last reported, guide Ethan Rond, who was the first to shoot at the terrorist, claimed that the soldiers had hesitation about firing, and the IDF was about to do an investigation.
The IDF has since reported that some of the soldiers did fire, and Rond says he was apparently mistaken. I stand corrected then, as this new information has come available.
And yet, I am not satisfied that this resolves the issue on a broader scale: that there is never hesitation on the part of soldiers to shoot – hesitation that might put them at risk.
I do not want to link this possible hesitation only to the Azariya case – although I pointed out the ironic juxtaposition of the two situations in my last post.
During testimony given by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan at the Azariya trial, he
“expressed heavy concern that this case is harming the IDF every day it continues and harming future soldiers’ ability to defend themselves and to know how to act.” (emphasis added)
His words, spoken before the court ruling, should not be taken lightly. What I have learned now, after that ruling, is that many soldiers feel enraged, and that there are soldiers who, in response to what happened to Azariya, are hesitant to shoot.
A platoon commander, a first sergeant in the field, with whom I spoke this week, referred to “ivory tower thinking” on the part of higher ups who make the rules.
There are two factors that are not sufficiently considered, as he sees it: 1) that sometimes the soldier is an 18 year old, and immature, and 2) that there is insufficient time to make a considered decision. There might be three seconds in which to either shoot or die. Yet those who judge these situations do not take these matters into consideration adequately.
There are rules as to when a soldier can shoot, and when he can shoot to kill. In the latter case, only when the situation is life threatening. But making that determination can be complex: An Arab holding a Molotov cocktail in his hand isn’t life threatening? He only becomes life threatening when he raises his arm to throw it? Or how about rock throwing, which can be lethal, especially when aimed at cars? It is not necessarily seen as such, and defining the risk can be tricky.
As soon as a soldier shoots someone, a process is begun, and the perception is that the higher-ups are very stringent in how they assess a situation. Some soldiers prefer not to shoot rather than be embroiled in an investigative process.
I would never suggest that there should be no rules on when shooting is permitted, or that there should never be an investigation. What I do see is that the soldier in the field who operates in good faith under difficult circumstances needs to know that the system has his back. That he – and not world opinion as manipulated by leftist media – is the first priority. That “purity of arms” is a flawed policy, one that is manipulated by Palestinian Arabs who are up to no good and are well aware of the constraints on the soldiers.
See this Arutz Sheva article on the subject from two years ago:
Returning to the issue of moving the US Embassy to western Jerusalem, two contradictory reports have surfaced:
One says (emphasis added):
“The incoming Trump administration plans to move ahead with its plans to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem regardless of criticism from Arab nations, CNN reported Monday.
”According to the report, US President-elect Donald Trump’s team has informed regional allies of the plans.”
And the second (emphasis added):
David Friedman, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for the post of Ambassador to Israel, may work out of Jerusalem while the US embassy remains in Tel Aviv, according to a report by Channel 2…
According to the report by Channel 2, the Trump Administration has decided, after extensive talks with all parties, to implement a compromise solution.
Under the proposed compromise, incoming Ambassador David Friedman would take up residence near the American Consulate in Jerusalem and work there, while the US embassy remained in Tel Aviv. This would be an unusual step, as Ambassadors normally live in proximity to their embassies.
We will have to sit tight and see how this plays out. It would truly be a pity if threats of violence affected Trump’s decision – it would set a very negative tone. This is how the Arabs consistently play it (on the Temple Mount, for example), and it is beyond infuriating – infuriating, actually, that authorities are cowed by the threats. David Friedman has a home here in Jerusalem already but might require one closer to the Consulate. He has indicated a desire to work in Jerusalem as ambassador.
The American Consulate that is referred to above is in Talpiot.
It is on a property that is quite big and could readily accommodate a second building to be utilized as embassy; rumor has it that this is where it would be placed. If this turns out to be the case, Friedman would require residence near the embassy anyway. It is possible, we do not know, that the transition would be done in stages. For the ambassador to operate out of Jerusalem already confers upon Jerusalem a recognition that is a departure from previous US policy.
There are other things that might be done quickly by the Trump administration that would positively alter a very troubling American status quo.
At present, the State Department refuses to acknowledge Jerusalem as part of Israel in official documents. Thus, for example, all babies born of American parents in hospitals in Jerusalem receive American birth certificates that indicate place of birth is “Jerusalem,” with no country mentioned. Similarly, I’ve had to renew my American passport since living here, and it indicates that it was renewed in “Jerusalem.” A simple order would change this.
And then there is the disturbing fact that there are actually two American consulates in Jerusalem. The one described above does normal consular work; this is where I went to renew my passport. The “other” consulate is on Agron Street, near the center of town.
This consulate is a diplomatic mission that actually functions as an embassy to the PA. This is because the US, thankfully, does not recognize the PA as a nation in which it can locate a full embassy. Consulates normally are satellites of an embassy and work under the jurisdiction of that embassy – report to the embassy. This consulate does not. It does not report to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, but operates independently and reports directly to the State Department.
It is actually quite startling. Here is an office of the US located in Jerusalem, and it does not utilize Hebrew – only English and Arabic. (I’ve met with people in this consulate, and have seen their business cards.)
An order should go out from the president, or the State Department, that forthwith this consulate must report to the US Embassy to Israel.
(With thanks to my Legal Grounds co-chair, Jeff Daube, on these suggestions for quick action.)
Please see and broadly share “Kill the Two State Solution,” by the brilliant Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish (emphasis added).
“The two-state solution, a perverse euphemism for carving an Islamic terror state out of the land of Israel and the living flesh of her people, is in trouble…
“The two-state solution is a zombie. It can’t be dead because it never lived. It was a rotting shambling corpse of a diplomatic process. If you stood downwind of the proceedings, it looked alive.
“Up close there was only blood and death…
“The problem that the two-state solution was solving was the Jewish Problem; the existence of Israel…
”The two-state solution didn’t end the violence. It turned it up to eleven. It didn’t even create a Palestinian state. But it did a moderately decent job of solving the Jewish Problem by killing Jews.
“It killed thousands of them. It filled cemeteries, ethnically cleansed towns and villages, and brought war to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time in a generation. It turned terror from an aberration into a routine. It made death into a way of life for the Muslim population controlled by the terrorists and the Jewish population targeted by them. It endangered the existence of Israel for the first time since 1973.
“The two-state solution isn’t dead. It is death.
“The ‘solution’ has turned children into orphans and left parents weeping at the graves of their daughters. It has sown hilltops with dragon’s teeth of rockets and sent cities fleeing to bomb shelters. It has ushered in an endless age of wars against terrorists who can’t be utterly defeated because that would destroy the two-state solution.”
How painfully, horrifically true this is. Israelis who were here before Oslo (I was not) talk about how much kinder and better relations with the Arabs were – before the terrorists were brought from Tunisia to forge “peace.” Time and again I have observed, with a sense close to despair, the ways in which our government has stepped back from the really tough action required because it was thought we had to show the world (because the world “demanded”) conciliation and concessions for “peace.”
This must stop. Now.
We may be headed towards better times at last, if the good people refuse to cave to threats. Which is why I pray that Trump will set the tone and refuse to cave on the embassy relocation.