Over the last couple months I’ve had the honor to learn about Israeli first hand from a reader in Israel. Since he has been living with terrorism all his life I sent him a couple questions for all of us to learn from.
The interview turned out so great that I’m leaving the entire thing in. Just a warning, it’s huge, but I think you will get a lot out of it. I really enjoyed reading it. So here is part one from an Israeli on life with terrorism.
Can you tell us about yourself (age, gender, economic statues, anything you want people to know), area you live in, what you do for a living, and about your family?
I am a 30 year old male, married and have two children. I’m a mental health professional. My economic statues is average.
I live in Israel which is a very small state (the size of New Jersey) in the Middle East with few natural resources. Politically speaking Israel is surrounded by Arab Muslim states and has a large Arab and Muslim Minority. I served in the military, I am not a commando.
I don’t want to tire you with history and politics. If you are interested in learning more visit: http://www.science.co.il/arab-israeli-conflict.asp
If after reading you have any questions or comments I will be happy to try and answer.
Are there any “normal” or usual terrorist attacks in your area?
Yes there are “normal” terrorist attacks and I think it’s important to explain why. As I said Israel is surrounded by Arab and Muslim countries and has a large Arab and Muslim minority. Since Israel is a Jewish state and therefore represents a different ethnic and religious group. For obvious reasons the other groups are not happy with this situation and the environment is one of conflict.
The reason I went into this is because in my experience it’s important to understand that in Israel at least it’s very rare that terrorist attacks occur out of the blue. When something happens it happens in relation to the Arab – Israeli conflict. Living in conflict means that crime such as car theft could actually turn out to be an act of terrorism. A current example is carjacking at first it was treated as theft when some “thieves” were caught it turned out they were trying to kidnap the driver (mostly women) in exchange for terrorists held in prison.
In my area we have different types of terrorist attacks. The terror attacks could be anything between throwing stones at driving cars to suicide bombings. But let me describe some of the different types of attacks I know of or encountered.
Rocks or boulders
Throwing rocks or boulders is the most common method. Israel is very rocky and there is no shortage of them.
Rocks are either thrown in the context of a demonstration or riot or from strategic locations such as a building, bridge, olive grove at a bend in the road or a cliff overlooking the road. Etc’
As a child I was rocked many times on the way to school or while traveling with my family. Sometimes the rocks were thrown from school courtyards other times from olive groves.
As a child of 8 I remember driving with my grandfather in an Arab city when a boulder was rolled onto the roof of our car from a building. The boulder dented the roof but we were OK. The rock throwing is so wide spread that many cars in Israel have rock proof windows, as I child of 11 I remember my bus being attacked and the sight of the rocks smashing into the plastic while I was shrinking into my chair, but the rocks didn’t penetrate. Some years later I was in a car with a friend and we were attacked with rocks by teenagers standing about three meters from the road. The car was rented and all three rocks penetrated the windshield wounding me in the chest my friend in the shoulder and another rock passing in between us.
I was lucky because lately a new method of rock throwing was developed: Throwing the rock at your car from a driving car. A father and his baby son were recently killed by such an attack. Because the method was new the police at first thought it was a car accident, only after they noticed the father’s pistol was missing they realized what happened, and the terrorists were found and arrested.
Since rocks and boulders are a weapon of close proximity they can be avoided by avoiding problematic areas especially while the Arab children are leaving school. Also avoid Arab population during times of political tension or their holydays. Slingshots are also used but mostly in riots, the danger in my opinion is more the after school rock throwing not all the kids walk around with slingshots but when a group throws stones together the chance of getting hit rises.
Other methods of defense: professional and combat driving skills, being aware and armed.
Rocks or boulders are also used as weapons at very close range. A few minutes away from my house two fourteen year old boys were beaten to death with stones by Bedouins during the 2001 while they were on a hike in the ravine near their home.
Here the methods of defense are awareness, being armed and being well trained in KravMaga or hand to hand fighting techniques in order to break contact and draw a firearm or other weapon. Of course physically in shape always helps.
Molotov cocktails are used in the same MOE of throwing rocks but are more dangerous if they ignite. In 1988 a mother and her three kids were burned to death in a bus as a result of a Molotov cocktail.
My parents neighbors’ face was scared for life after he was trapped in a burning car as a result of a Molotov cocktail.
A family member described to me a trip to school in which a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the bus he was traveling in but they put it out.
Defense and avoidance: The same as in rock throwing. Carrying a fire extinguisher and some other gear is wise.
Weapons such as knives, screwdrivers hammers broken bottles or axes have also been used in terror attacks. As a kid I remember going to the grocery store and seeing on the front page of a newspaper a picture of a bloody ax and a picture of the female soldier who was killed with it.
About a year ago, almost, an entire family was slaughtered in their sleep by two terrorists who were 18 and 19 years old. They jumped over an electric fence armed with 4 knives and killed the parents and 3 of their kids, the youngest was 3 months old. The attack was on their initiative. They stole a rifle and a handgun. They were later caught after all the men in the village were rounded up and were genetically checked The mother tried fighting them and some blood was found under her fingernails which gave the genetic information. The weapons were retrieved. Three children survived the terrorists didn’t notice a room in which two were sleeping and the older sister was out with her friends. She returned home and found her family dead.
This MOE usually demands preparation of the weapon in the past it was very common and still does happen but much less. This type of terror attack is often an incitation test into a terrorist organization, or a lone terrorist without the infrastructure to supply him with a firearm. It is interesting but sometimes women attack using this method. Many times it happens after the woman is accused with shaming her family with immoral behavior. (Dating, or having an affair) In this case they attack in order to try and save their lives by succeeding and going to jail or dying as a martyr.
Another story (from around 2000) is of a woman who was attacked by a terrorist armed with two knives. Her children were away her husband had left a loaded M-16 in the living room and had a handgun in the closet. She woke up from her sleep in the middle of the night by a man carrying two knives and wearing a sack over his head the woman is a big read head farmer. She wrestled him and turend his hands holding the knives at him. Her husband was stabbed in the back. She couldn’t tell in the dark who was who so she yelled out to your husband am I touching you? The husband said no and she stabbed again and again eventually killing the terrorist. It seems that he wasn’t switched on he walked through the kids rooms and slashed the blankets on the beds thinking they were kids.
The last story is of an ultraorthodox Jew who was stabbed in the old city of Jerusalem he was down on his back kicking at the terrorist but holding on to his hat with both hands. I guess it was instinctive. The terrorist hesitated but eventually managed to kill him.
It is harder to defend yourself against this sort of attack because it could happen anywhere although the chance of an attack occurring is larger in areas with mixed population. On the other hand you have more of a chance of getting out of a knife fight if you are aggressive and fight back. You can defend yourself by being aware of your surroundings Hand to hand combat skills such as Krav Maga are absolutely essential and of course being armed.
It is a good idea to wear heavy clothing. If someone identified you as a target protecting your head and neck will be tough.
If that’s not your cup of tea you can avoid the danger by avoiding problematic areas especially during problematic times. (holydays, political tension)
Earthmovers and trucks
There was a period of time in which Arab earthmoving workers used their heavy machinery to attack people and vehicles that happened to be in the area. I guess it stopped because all the terrorists were killed and the authorities started background checks of the drivers
As far as I could remember there were three events (07/02/08, 07/22/08, 03/05/09) in which earthmovers were used, all three happened in Jerusalem. In every instance an earthmover ran over vehicles, such as buses or cars. In the first event it took people a rather long time to react because such an event wasn’t seen immediately as a terror attack. As a result three were killed and dozens were wounded. In the second event 18 were wounded and the terrorist killed. In the third event 2 police officers were hurt.
In all three events civilians helped killing the terrorists, in the first a young unarmed soldier on vacation (in a blue shirt) who finished only basic training took a hand gun from someone who obviously had no idea what to do with it jumped onto the earthmover and shot the terrorist.
Youtube clips of the first two events:
The first event:
The clip includes the soldier on leave shooting. Another thing you could see is a bystander brandishing his weapon, but failing to use it, While the earthmover continues. People clapping after the terrorist was killed and a person asking in Hebrew why didn’t you do it sooner?
The second event:
A truck was used in a terror attack in Tel Aviv about a year ago killing one and injuring seventeen. He was found guilty last week.
Be aware terrorists are constantly thinking of new ways to attack.
Always carry a firearm, if you can.
Courage to act on your analysis of the situation, easier said than done. It is interesting to note that the soldier who shot the first earthmover terrorist had a family member who as a captain in the paratroopers brigade while on leave stopped an active terrorist shooter who killed eight in a theological school several months prior to that This brings us to shooting attacks.
There are several different types of shooting attacks. An ambush, drive by shooting from another car or an attack in which the shooter attacks in plain sight many times making sure he murdered his victims.
I don’t want to bore the reader so here is a small taste:
1954 – 11 passengers were killed near Eilat in southern Israel near the Egyptian border.
1974 – 24 people killed in an airport by 3 Japanese terrorists working with the PLO.
2001 – a year old baby girl killed by a sniper in Hebron
2004 – a pregnant mother in her eight month of pregnancy and her 4 daughters were killed by terrorist while driving. The terrorists approached the vehicle after the initial barrage of fire and made sure they were all killed. I know someone who was about a hundred meters away but couldn’t do anything because his rifle was not zeroed.
2010 – 4 people killed in a drive by shooting.
Lessons I learned for being shot at while in a car:
Have a car with a strong engine so you could out drive any car that tries to bypass yours or use the car as a weapon. A short weapon that has the stopping power and is compact is definitely a big plus (most people here don’t have because we don’t have self defense rights like in the U.S). Traveling in a bulletproof vehicle in dangerous areas is another good idea. Wearing a helmet bulletproof vest eye protection is another good idea; of course the bullet might enter through the armpit.
If under attack the engine blocks is your best bet for protection and just keep on driving out of the area. Shooting back is nice in theory but in reality just try to get out alive. I know someone who was always ready, he was driving friends who just got married. They were attacked, he realized that and tried picking up his M4 and firing while driving but he was to slow and was killed. The bridegroom leaned over from the back seat and drove the car out of the junction while flashing the lights in attempt to warn another car who entered the junction in vane, a father mother and 10 year old child were killed.
Then again I have heard of someone (a tough Russian guy) who was shot while driving. His car stalled, he played dead when the terrorists came to check out the results he killed them both with a handgun. I guess that would also work. No matter what you must keep you cool and you need lots of luck.
Shooting attacks in plain sight:
May 2002 – Another female family member was hanging out one night with some friends in Itamar a small Jewish town in Samaria. They were attacked by a terrorist carrying an AK-47. She was riding a donkey and fell off when it got scared of the shots. Her father who is a veteran of the first Lebanon war and a bunch of terror attacks himself always told her: if you are ever under attack duck down. She did and she ran. She fell into a ditch and saw the tracers fly over her head.
The terrorist continued into a dormitory and started shooting into the rooms. Two kids who tried escaping into another ditch were shot and killed. At this point an aquatint of mine who was working there as a security guard armed with an old high power 9 MM shot two shots at him the terrorist charged at him running across a long row of single story houses which were the dormitory buildings. The security guard stepped into one of the buildings and as the terrorist ran by he shot him again. The bullet entered his temple and exited the eye. The pistol jammed. The terrorist was lying on the floor calling for his mother but it also looked like he was trying to retrieve a hand grenade and was shot by the head of security that got to the scene.
A month later during June 2002 a terrorist infiltrated into Itamar again this time to a different area. He tried entering a few houses and finally found one which was not locked. He came in and killed the mother in the kitchen and two more children upstairs in the bath. One of her children was out riding his bike with another kid they both drove home when they heard the shooting, one of them was killed when he got home. The terrorist barricaded himself in the home first the residents tried charging the home, one was killed. In the previous story the swift action saved lives. Here the civilian tried operating in the same way, and was killed.
The army came in later the terrorist tried escaping by jumping from a second story window but was shot in midair by a sniper.
I was shot at once, I wasn’t armed. I remember asking myself in VERY slow motion what were the whistles I heard near my ears. Then I remember answering those are shots fired at me, I’m getting shot at. I crouched down. A man behind me was hit in the knee. We dragged him behind an armored bus and got an armored ambulance to pick him up.
Lessons I learned:
Always keep your doors locked. Alarm systems floodlights motion sensors and knowing the layout of your house in the dark, locking doors and spreading surprises are also good ideas.
Bars on the windows, a fence around the gate and a dog are a minimum.
Always be armed if you can.
There is a fine line between immediate action and stopping and assessing the situation. Choosing the right course of action can save lives, easier said than done.
Roadside bombs (IED)
We have had instances civilians were attacked by IED’s. Some were activated by someone watching others by a trigger or a cell phones. The explosives could be improvised or mortar shells or military issue explosives.
As far as I understand Hamas and Hezbollah with the generous help of Iran are learning and improving all the time.
It is always important to be aware of cars, barrels, garbage dumpsters, bags, packages, and backpacks that don’t seem to belong.
I don’t have the knowledge to give more information about this threat.
The first suicide bombing I know of in Israel was in 1993 and the last one 2011, not including the bombing in Bulgaria just last week. Suicide bombers usually try exploding in areas with as many civilians as possible. Such areas are central bus stations, train stations shopping centers or malls. As a result it is impossible to enter any medium level and up shopping center and of course bus and train stations without being checked by security. The security check could be a simple metal detector or x-raying your belongings. During the height of the last terror campaign it was impossible to enter even a coffee shop without being checked, several security guards gave their lives in protection of the people inside.
After the public areas were heavily fortified terrorists started targeting easier locations such as buses and bus stops. I have been about 1 minute away from such an attack. I had to travel to the dentist I was on the way to the bus stop when a shock wave and an explosion shook the area. I had finished an EMT course a few weeks before so I ran towards the explosion. I reached a wide green lawn and I stopped. At the time I didn’t understand what stopped me. I remember myself staring at something and slowly understanding it was a slice of human flesh. I lifted my eyes and saw that the lawn was dotted with flesh and bones. Later I was told that they all belonged to the suicide bomber, the force of the explosion tore him apart mostly at the joints as was evident at the site. I was also told that the civilians standing at the bus stop realized that the man was a terrorist and seized him. The bus driver closed the doors on him; the terrorist was struggling violently to release himself. No one was armed so the people holding him decided to count to three and run so they could escape the explosion. An old woman who was there couldn’t run fast enough and was killed by the blast.
The government created a security unit that was to supply protection to public transportation commuters. The bus stops were grouped together and security guards who were trained in identifying and using selective fire in a civilian area and KravMaga, hand to hand combat were stationed in uniform and plain clothes around the area.
Always be as aware as possible.
Be armed if legally possible.
To be continued tomorrow…