It was only a matter of time. What is happening in Gaza today between Israel and Hamas is nothing new. Just on a larger scale with bigger threats and much more complicated.
I served in the Kfir brigade for two years and was stationed mostly in Judea and Samaria. For 6 months I was stationed by the towns of Beit Omar, Halhoul, and Al Aroub. We were tasked with protecting civilians, Arab and Jewish, from rock throwers. There was constant rock throwing incidents.
Who were these rock throwers? Arab youth with an age range between 5 years to early 20s. Most of the instigators were in their late teens. There were peaceful protests every now and then with elderly, westerners, or young kids marching but in the background were always these rock throwers.
Road 60 passes by this area and it is a main road for both Arab and Jewish drivers. Rocks were thrown onto this road constantly. Sometimes the only way to prevent these rocks from being thrown at civilians was to send soldiers into the villages to turn these youths attention towards us.
One such incident occurred while I was with fellow soldiers in Al Aroub. We were passing through the village main square when rocks started being thrown our way from high points in other parts of the village and we could not tell where they were coming from. A glass bottle was also thrown in our direction from a high point and almost hit an elderly Arab man. The Arabs around us got angry and asked my commander why we had to be there…the elderly man could’ve been hurt. The simple answer given by my commander was “stop throwing rocks, tell your children not to.” Suffice it to say they did not listen, continued to argue with us and we found ourselves going into the village again and again to prevent rocks and other projectiles from injuring civilians on the roads.
Another incident, which occurred while I was stationed at an IDF pillbox by Beit Omar, resulted in the death of Asher and Yonatan Palmer. Older men, not kids, who were more versed in terror tested a method of throwing rocks from vehicles and used this method against Asher’s vehicle. They killed him and as a result of the car turning over in a horrific crash, his child Yonatan as well. After which, we did not leave the roadside and the villages for a very long time. New missions in order to try to prevent and protect the civilians were established.
Calm for Calm, Peace for Peace. That is all we have been asking for years. Maybe now it is too late and we need to find a better solution.
As a soldier I was constantly being sent in and out, allowing calm to be restored but constantly being reminded that it was not really restored and having to mount another mission because civilians were in danger. Now more soldiers are being sent in to dangerous situations to keep their homes and families safe from terror.
In Gaza, Hamas and other terror organizations shoot rockets indiscriminately. The ability for these rockets to kill is enormous, luckily the aim is shoddy and the Iron Dome has been very effective at protecting heavily populated areas. The amount of rocks thrown to the amount of injuries sustained by soldiers and civilians alike is also telling. Rocks are hard to aim as well. However in both cases there is intent to hurt, wound, maim, and kill.
What are these children learning in order to carry such hatred? Why do the rocks and rockets not stop?
Last year I along with a friend posted a video on YouTube explaining the dangers of rock throwing.
Rockets are so much worse and we cannot live with them, but is there anything we can do unless education is changed? It is nothing new. So at this point it is still hard to tell.