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Soldier Stories: Orit Wrestles with Treating a Terrorist
Soldier Stories: Orit Wrestles with Treating a Terrorist

By JSpace Staff
February 21, 2013

This is the first in a series of stories told by former IDF soldiers about their time in service and life in Israel, brought to you by StandWithUs and Orit is one of the 12 soldiers on StandWithUsí 5th annual "Israeli Soldiers Stories" tour, currently coming to locations around the United States. Email [email protected] to find an engagement near you.

Former medic Orit, now 28, joined the Israeli army at the age of 18. Though, as a religious Jew, she didnít have to serve in the IDF, Orit requested to be stationed in the West Bank. She wanted to see for herself how Israel was treating the resident Palestinians. What she found was an incredible cooperation between the peoples, but one that forced her to make a difficult decision when confronted with the order to treat a known terrorist. This is her story.

Jspace: Where were you stationed in the IDF?

Orit: When I joined the IDF there werenít as many female combat soldiers in the West Bank as there are now. So I believe now the numbers are much greater and I am very happy about it because in my opinion it changes the army and helps with gender equality.

Why did you join the IDF?

I come from a religious family, so I wasnít obligated to join the army, I chose to. Female religious girls have the option to do Nation Service instead of joining the military but I really wanted to be a part of it. Part of my motivation was to see firsthand whatís happening in West Bank. In Israel you have the media filtering everything for you and I wanted to see for my own eyes whatís happening.

Did you have any trepidation about going to the West Bank?

I wanted to feel like I served my country and I gave them my all. Being on the front line in the West Bank, in my eyes, was the best way to do it. I was really, really happy to find out the military was not as bad as they show you in the mediaóitís not bad at all. Itís obligated not only to protect Israeli citizens but also to give aid to Palestinians whenever needed.

Can you share some stories about these experiences?

This 6-year-old Palestinian boy was caught in some heavy machinery. His life was in danger and he had to be extracted immediately in order to save his life. The Palestinians couldnít extract him and he was losing a lot of blood so they asked for help from the Israeli army. We actually injured ourselves in order to save this little boyís life. We took him to one of the best Israeli hospitals for surgery, and his life was saved. There is cooperation between Palestinians and the Israeli army that is not shown in the news. A lot of lives are saved thanks to that. Iím really privileged to be a part of it.

Another story happened in October of 2003, when I had only been in the army for a few months. I was walking at night, and a paramedic told me to go to the security prison inside the military base immediately. She didnít say who the prisoner was, just that I was the only medic available. Usually they wouldnít send such a young medic to treat someone, but they had no other option, so I went.

When I got to the prison, I saw the prisoner and I knew exactly who he was. He was responsible for a huge terrorist attack: He sent his own sister to commit a suicide bombing in a restaurant in Haifa. Her attack killed 21 people. A lot of innocent babies and children were killed. So when he said that was his name I was really conflicted. The media was constantly covering the story of the victims but there he was in front of me and I was ordered to treat him. So I had to think, what if he was released at the end of his trial, what if he was freed in a hostage deal someday? What if he murdered again?

After a few seconds I just treated him. I examined his condition and gave him IV fluids and medication, everything he needed since I was trained to treat those in need regardless of their moral standards, regardless of nationality. I treated him as I would any other patient.

He actually thanked me and when I finished. I almost felt like I had betrayed his victims. He is a person who deliberately sent his own sister to sacrifice her life for the purpose of killing innocent people. It was really, really hard for me to accept his thanks.

But I did it. I did it as a member of the medical team. I did it because Iím part of a moral army. I did it because the IDF is committed to high moral standards and a really clear ethical code. And it was really clear to me what I have to do and I certainly would have done the same thing today. Iím proud to be part of an army that is clear about moral standards and a code of ethics.

.ORG-Connection: StandWithUs is dedicated to informing the public about Israel and to combating the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues.

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