Israel’s Unsung Servicewomen

Whatever one thinks of the efficacy of Netanyahu’s response to the wave of terror, it is Israel’s servicewomen who are arguably most deserving of our admiration.

From the tender age of 18, they have been burdened with the daunting responsibility of protecting ordinary civilians at great risk to themselves. Plucked from the joys of teenage life, they are assigned a dangerous mission which, in times of old, many would erroneously presume to be worthy of men only.

When witnessing these intrepid girls questioning one, or indeed, a number of suspected would-be attackers in the street, one can hardly walk away without being awestruck by their courage.

They are armed and they are clad in protective vests, but they are just girls. In a mere blink of an eye, they are well aware that a terrorist can produce a knife and inflict multiple stabs wounds before a gun is even loaded. Consolation cannot be found in the knowledge that a terrorist will likely be killed after he or she has caused life-changing or fatal damage.

Any apparent pretense of overconfidence is merely bravado required for the task at hand. Beneath it lies the human emotion which would engulf any young girl facing a knife. Yet they face their suspects bravely and conduct themselves admirably, irrespective of their suspects’ size, gender or numbers.

It is misguided to think that any number of protective weapons can delude any soldier into a sense of invulnerability when facing a individual bent on killing him or her. Similarly, it is false to think that these girls have any natural interest in a confrontation which could easily conclude with them on the receiving end of a knife, ax or bullet.

All of us have looked at a creased black and white picture from various Israeli wars of women who’s heroic story belies their regular smile. However, the girls we see patrolling our streets today are no different and we are blessed to have them.

Hadar Cohen was just a girl and her life was snatched from her. Yet her devotion was unquestionable and her willingness to take risks for our safety can be the source of great pride for us all. Hadar Cohen was a hero and while she is no longer with us, there are thousands more like her who take the same hazardous risks on a daily basis.

Hadar’s photo can move a person to tears but we need not not rely on photos perpetuating a hero’s memory to remind us that we walk among them each day.

The exhausted expression that some things cannot be described in words often risks falling into the unwanted category of cliches. Yet some feelings truly cannot be articulated, gifted though we are with the vastness of the English language.

While I hope that this piece does not reflect a failure to acknowledge all of Israel’s heroes, my admiration for Israel’s servicewomen is certainly one of those things for which language cannot do justice.

About the Author
Alexander Apfel holds a BA and MA in Modern History. He is an IDF reservist in the armored corps.