The civilians knew we were coming so no one should have been there
On the second day of the fighting, I found myself running toward one of the buildings,
entering it quickly. There were shots around, “sniper” shots. The situation was very
uncertain. From our point of view, we knew that the civilians knew we were supposed
to arrive at that time and as such, everyone should have evacuated. Whoever might
remain would be treated as an enemy combatant. We entered the house and heard
noises from the second floor. We climbed the stairs and reached the second floor.
On the one hand, I told myself as a commander and as a soldier, that whoever was there
was aware that I was supposed to arrive and could endanger my life. As such, I have
complete justification to view him as a threat to my life and to neutralize the threat.
On the other hand, the person I encountered appeared to be unarmed and even looked
surprised to see me. In that split second, I made the decision not to shoot and relayed
to my soldiers to come upstairs. We checked him, spoke to him in Arabic and asked
him what he was doing there.
As it turned out, this person was disabled and had been left behind by his own family
and the Hamas. We were presented with an urgent dilemma. How should we handle
such a situation under the sensitive and dangerous circumstances within which the IDF
was operating inside Gaza?
My soldier who spoke fluent Arabic approached him, talked to him, calmed him and
gave him water and food. We realized that he was scared and helpless. He eventually
calmed down and we gently helped him downstairs,exited the home and took him to
the street to a safe area to ensure that he would not be harmed – either by IDF soldiers,
or by the Hamas.