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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

An Israeli Soldier's Story

Unfortunately, these kinds of stories are rare in the Israeli press (although there was one last week in the Post, surprisingly written by one of their most leftist columnists). This came from FrontPageMagazine.com.
His nickname is Itchy, which some people may guess he received after leaving home in Cleveland, Ohio to join the Israel Defense Forces, the IDF, and developed a proverbial "itchy trigger finger," but it has actually been his nickname all his life, and his IDF service exemplifies the professionalism he and his fellow soldiers exhibit.

What makes Itchy different from most other Israeli soldiers is that while most orthodox Jews who join the IDF come from a Zionist religious family, typified by men wearing a knitted Kippah, the traditional Jewish man's head-covering, Itchy’s family wears black hats, symbolizing a more devout religious life, thus not the typical family whose kids join the army. "I wanted to do it since I was a kid," he said. "The opportunity struck at a certain time, so I grabbed it. I was in the yeshiva in Waterbury, Connecticut, when my brother-in-law mentioned an IDF religious unit to me. I decided I was old enough to do it and I was ready to join. I did not give it much thought. I made the decision to join and that was it."

Itchy joined Nachal Chareidie, a rigorously religious battalion. "This is the unit I wanted to be in because it’s an uncompromising religious unit. I had the chance to grow and practice religion too." Just because they take extra time to pray and study the Talmud does not make them a lesser unit in the eyes of other soldiers. In fact, it’s the opposite.


"One day I was on a jeep patrol, checking things out, and we decided to stop to pick up lunch at one of the check points where our unit was set up. There were about 30 Palestinian cars in line at the check point when we left to go back to our base for a shift change. Suddenly, over the radio we heard there was a terrorist attack at the checkpoint we just left. After 5 minutes, the commander announced on the radio that the incident was cleared." As it turned out, an officer at the check point noticed a Palestinian man wearing a big coat on a hot day and a larger than usual stomach. The man looked "overall suspicious", Itchy explained.

The officer on-scene screamed "Stop!" to the man in the suspicious jacket. Upon hearing this, all the soldiers went into heightened alert. The Palestinian tried to explain the wire hanging out from his shirt was from a TV remote control, which only made the Israeli soldiers more suspicious, to say the least. A command was given. The IDF soldiers pointed their guns at the suspicious Palestinian man. The officer said, "If you move one inch, we will blast you down." The man was ordered to back up away from the check point and away from everyone. From a safe distance, he was ordered to remove his coat, which revealed a fully loaded suicide bomb vest. He was then ordered to strip down to his underwear, just in case there was a second bomb. The would-be suicide bomber was taken into custody, and everyone was safe.

Itchy had been at the checkpoint just moments before, where IDF soldiers check cars and ID’s with the utmost respect for Palestinians, even when they know any one of them may be wearing a suicide belt.
Read the whole thing.


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