Analysis

Soldier Who Shot Terrorist at West Bank Settlement Doesn't Deserve a Medal

Staff Sgt. A. may have saved lives that day in Halamish, but he never endangered his own life and only acted the way any soldier should have

Defense Minister Lieberman, center, at the scene of attack in Halamish
Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry

Staff Sgt. A. heard shouts from his neighbors’ house in Halamish on Friday night, June 21. A. and his father went out to see what was happening and when they realized it was a terrorist attack A. ran back into their house, grabbed his service pistol, came to the window and shot one bullet through it that wounded the terrorist, who had already murdered three members of the Salomon family with a knife.

Michal Salomon and her children were saved and she thinks A. is a hero and deserves, in addition to the deep thanks and appreciation, a medal too. The Israel Defense Forces agrees, say media reports. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has joined in. He invited A. to his office, had their pictures taken together and then tweeted: “He deserves a medal.”

I can understand that the family is in his debt; even the defense minister, who is a politician, after all. But the IDF? Medals are not given for doing your duty, the obvious thing. They are given for an exceptional act, something special that had especial daring and endangered the life of the person who carried out the action.

From what IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who arrived on the scene, said it turns out A. did not break into the house – it wasn’t necessary – and did not confront the terrorist physically. In other words, he was not endangered by the terrorist inside the house.

The only bullet he fired, was through the window. (There are those who think that because of this, that he fired only one bullet, and only wounded the terrorist, he deserves a medal.)  A. acted as is required of a soldier, any soldier – and how much more so for a soldier in an elite combat unit – who has a weapon and is faced with a security incident. The same is expected of a neighbor who is trained in shooting a pistol and personally knows those who he must save.

Without a doubt, and obviously, that if A. had not carried out his basic duty, Michal and her children would not be alive today. For that he certainly deserves the family’s deep appreciation and a passionate embrace from the entire country (except those, of course, who call to empathize with the last testament of the murderer).  

The medal should be saved for those praiseworthy acts that are not obvious, true acts of courage.

A., two of whose brothers also serve in elite combat units, comes from an exemplary family. I am certain that they all agree, including A., with these words.