Here in the U.S, serious issues of national security have mostly been forgotten in the tragicomedy of our presidential election–which, God help us, still has nearly eight months to go. In Israel, however, life and death is a constant preoccupation. Since the current round of terrorist attacks began in October, around 30 Israelis have been murdered.
Tuvia Weissman, a 21-year-old IDF soldier, was one of them. Last month, he was shopping in a West Bank supermarket when two young Arabs began attacking Jewish shoppers with knives. Weissman, a staff sergeant, was on leave and unarmed, but attacked the knife-wielding terrorists, probably saving others’ lives. Unfortunately, he succumbed to stab wounds inflicted by the terrorists. Weissman left a young widow and infant daughter.
Ultimately, an armed Israeli civilian shot both terrorists, killing one and seriously wounding the other.
Weissman’s widow, Yael, was unhappy with the IDF’s intention to carve on Weissman’s tombstone that he had “fallen in a terrorist attack.” She believed that this did not do her husband full credit, and campaigned to set the record straight:
The Israeli Defense Ministry announced Monday that it would recognize an off-duty soldier killed fighting terrorists in a supermarket as having “fallen in battle.”
Staff Sergeant Tuvia Weissman was murdered by knife-wielding Arab terrorists in a Rami Levi supermarket last month, after he attempted to fight them off bare-handed.
But his wife Yael was shocked to find that the IDF had decided it would inscribe on his tombstone merely that he had “fallen in a terrorist attack,” seemingly downplaying his incredible heroism.
In a Facebook post last month she wrote:
… I was there by your side seconds before you ran to save the lives of others.
“If that was not a combat fight then what is? Somehow you can fight terrorists with your bare hands, but if it is during shopping and you do not wear your uniform, it is not defined as ‘battle’.”
Now, following his widow’s direct appeal, the IDF has said it would change the wording to read “fell in battle.”
Addressing the topic, IDF Chief of Staff Major-General Gadi Eizenkot said that “the IDF’s position on the incident in which Staff Sergeant Tuvia Yanai Weissman was killed is that it was a battle – and that is part of our obligation to Yanai as a warrior, to his family, and to the IDF ethics of combat.”
“The fact that Yanai tried to tackle the terrorists and neutralize them with his bare hands until he died – (this) expresses his courageousness and the fact that for him, the scenario was (nothing less than) a battle with terrorists.”
The terrorist battlefield is wide, as we are periodically reminded, but seem prone to forget.