Yosh Mantinband

A word from my (soldier) son

The following was posted by our son, Amichai, on his popular YouTube channel for software engineers. It presents insights based on his experiences serving in the tank corps on the Gaza border during his army service as well as a point of view worth sharing. (It has been slightly edited since his original post.)

I’ve been debating whether to discuss this topic, since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is triggering for many people, but I do have something important to share, given my experience in the IDF (the Israeli army).

For those who don’t know, I, like any 18-year-old in Israel, was recruited to the IDF. During my service, I spent a total of about a year guarding the border with Gaza inside a tank. A few months were spent in the exact spot Gilad Shalit’s tank was attacked, the tank members were killed and he was kidnapped and held hostage for years by Hamas.

Now for the part I think many aren’t aware of: like most Israeli soldiers, I’ve never fired a single shot outside of training.

Not because we haven’t spotted Hamas terrorists digging tunnels or carrying guns. Because there were civilians in the area. When I say in the area, I mean anywhere near where they could get hurt.

The number of “yes”s required from the chain of command before firing, made it extremely rare that anyone fired. The decision-makers would cross intel + various visuals + inputs from other scenes and would usually answer “no.”

I’ve also spent many months in checkpoints. Not I, my friends, nor anyone I’ve served with has ever shot a single bullet or assaulted Palestinians for fun.

Throughout my service, like all soldiers, I was taught the “IDF moral code” (רוח צה״ל) which is available online and you’re welcome to look into it. There are also various courses all soldiers must take.

Don’t mistake this with me saying that Palestinians aren’t suffering or that Israeli soldiers are all extremely moral. I’m saying that the IDF, as a system, strives to be moral and keep civilians on both sides safe. Soldiers who don’t act this way, reach the headlines in Israel and are tried by the IDF court.

This is not true for decision-makers in Gaza. They are extremely proud of the dead babies, raped women, and decapitated heads. They are disappointed my 2-year-old wasn’t hit by the missile they launched into my area. A few years ago, my wife’s best friend’s house was directly hit by a rocket. I live a few minutes from their old home.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for others’ suffering. I do. It’s a complex equation and both things can be true. Unfortunately, there is enough pain and suffering for everyone.

My heart is truly heartbroken for all innocent citizens involved. Palestinians and Israelis. I think about this often, and if you know me personally, you know I could care less about a person’s nationality or ethnicity.

But the point is: if you think the IDF just drops bombs randomly on Gaza, then you might want to shift your perspective based on someone who was actually there.

You may also consider looking into the actions the IDF takes before bombing a building in Gaza or looking into the complexity behind trying to stop only terrorists without harming civilians (just a tl;dr I think it is important for context: their military headquarters are under a hospital).

One last thing — I saw someone tweet something like “You can’t tell an oppressed nation how to retaliate.”

There is a pretty clear line (trigger warning — graphic descriptions of actual events from the past 4 days): Don’t shoot babies in the head in front of their mothers. Don’t rape women on the bodies of their friends they just partied with at a music festival. Don’t murder parents who managed to save their 10-month-old twins (now orphans) only by hiding them in a last act of desperation. Don’t parade naked dead bodies in the street. Don’t send mothers a video of their son being murdered from his own WhatsApp. Don’t livestream killing an elderly grandmother from her own Facebook account for her granddaughter to see live. The list is way, WAY longer than this, and we are just finding out just how bad it is (as I’m writing this, they found 40 dead babies). Heartbreakingly, this is not based on stories, this is all documented, posted, and celebrated proudly by Hamas on social media.

I’ll end this post by saying: Hamas has brainwashed some of the Palestinians in Gaza. Not all, but some. These terrorists are not looking for peace. They are looking to murder me, my family, and every single person in my country.

I’m not sure how your country’s army would react, but I know that my army is in an impossible situation trying to keep the country safe while trying not to harm civilians. If you’re not seeing it, consider diversifying your news sources.

About the Author
Yosh Mantinband was originally a Texan and grew up in the Show-me State, but for over 30 years has been a proud Israeli. While much of his professional life has been spent doing boring stuff like engineering, his interests and activities are far-ranging. Not only that, but he is also proficient at headstands, a master of Bob-a-Loop and a string figure aficionado.
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