07 July '15..
Last Friday, the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Binyamin Brigade was ambushed by a group of Palestinians who hurled rocks at the military vehicle he was travelling in. He showed no hesitation in coming out of his car and shooting one of the terrorists dead. The IDF backed him up, as did many Knesset members and government ministers. So far so good, even if the resounding choir of support lacked the voices of the premier and the defense minister, but that's not the main problem.
Rocks kill. When they are hurled at your car while you're driving on a highway, you are likely to lose control and end up crashing into something, killing either yourself or passersby or fellow motorists. This was the case when the toddler Adele Biton was traveling with her mother and sisters near the city of Ariel in Samaria in March 2013. When a barrage of rocks hit the vehicle, it swerved and collided with a truck. All three girls in the car were hurt in the collision but Adele sustained critical injuries and died two years later.
This was also the case when Asher and Yonatan Palmer were murdered in September 2011 when a stone was hurled at their car from a passing vehicle. The military tribunal convicted Waal al-Araja, a member of the Palestinian security forces, of their murder.
"The method of the gang that murdered my brother was lethal," Asher's brother Shimon recounts. "They didn't just stand by the road and throw stones; rather they hurled them from a moving vehicle at cars travelling in the opposite lane, so that the impact of the rock doubled. They tried this on 17 occasions, but this was their only 'success.' The rock smashed the windshield and hit my brother in the head."
Every day there are between 20 to 50 incidents of Arabs hurling rocks at Jews' cars with the sole purpose of killing them. Had they other weapons, they'd use them instead. But a stone is an ever available and legal weapon, conducive to spontaneous attacks: you can't arrest someone for holding one. It's the ideal weapon of terror.
Those who usually suffer, bodily or mentally, are the Judea and Samaria settlers making their way along the routes that are regularly terrorized by the Arab stone-throwers. Some of them carry guns, just like the Binyamin Brigadier. Why, then, do they not use it in the manner he did?
Because it doesn't pay off. When we, the citizens of Israel, are clobbered with stones, the army, police and the judicial system expect us to not respond. To lower our heads and hang in there, better alive than dead though that's immaterial as long as we don't open fire. The message conveyed to us is that they prefer us to be right and dead.
I'll try to explain: sometimes I get ambushed by a crowd of Arabs who pelt me with rocks (including when my small children are in the car with me). It could be on my way to the grocery store or late at night en route to a concert (I'm a musician). I have two options: shoot in the air or, should this prove ineffective, at the assailants; I could also pray and drive carefully trying not to run over any of them. If I hit someone by car or bullet I go on trial and go to jail. My gun is taken away from me, as are my family, work and freedom. Why? Cause I tried to defend my life from someone who wanted me dead.
This injustice screams to high heaven. We are afraid to protect our lives. I carry arms which I intend to use only to avoid certain death, for instance, if the car will be hit by a firebomb and I'll be forced to flee on foot. Or if the Arabs will put up a roadblock in order to lynch the Jews driving through. Every time I hear the rocks hit the car I lower my head and think, through tears of sheer terror, what is the course of action that would result in the least amount of suffering?
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked submitted an amendment to the law against stone-throwers. The new bill states that to convict there is no burden of proof that they intended to cause bodily harm. But that's not enough. I want the prime minister and the defense minister to state loud and clear that if anyone throws rocks at me, I must respond. And they should back me up in court.
Karni Eldad is a musician, married, and a mother of two, a resident of Tekoa