Opinion

The Surest Method of Suicide

Every Israeli now knows what every Palestinian child knows: If you want to put an end to your agonized lives, go to the checkpoint

FILE PHOTO: Hizma checkpoint, West Bank.
Emil Salman

It was afternoon. The flyover had passed by, the outstanding soldiers had left the President’s Residence, even the World Bible Quiz winner had been announced. In the parks the meat was roasting on the barbecue. Soon they’d award the Israel Prize.

Israel (fictitious name) wanted to die. He was 19. It’s not clear what he was doing the morning of Independence Day, but in the afternoon he clearly wanted to end his life. He wrote a farewell letter, left his house in Pisgat Zeev in East Jerusalem and walked to the nearest checkpoint with a knife in his hand. He wanted to commit suicide in the fastest, most infallible way. He didn’t want to get out of it alive or end up as a cripple. He wanted to die.

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So he walked to the electric fence separating his neighborhood from the occupied territories. This fence is called Hizmeh checkpoint. Israel (fictitious name) knew that, as with any electric fence, anyone who touches it dies. Just like the fence that crossed Germany, so with the electric fence called the Israel Defense Forces: You touch it, you die. There is no way of getting out alive. Israel knew there is no other place where his death wish would come true in a faster, more effective way than the Hizmeh checkpoint. Just brandish a knife – and die.

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Israel (fictitious name) approached the checkpoint, raised the knife and ran toward the soldiers. The electric fence did its job immediately. The IDF’s automatic soldiers shot him dead, unhesitatingly, without any unnecessary thought, question or delay. Quick, fatal, irreversible, without agony. Perfect. IDF soldiers made Israel’s Independence Day wish come true the way reality show producers make others’ dreams come true. The IDF is always at your service, young wannabe suicide victim, on Independence Day and all other days of the year.

Without meaning to do so, Israel inaugurated a new Israeli enterprise. One day after Israel’s National Memorial Hall was inaugurated, its national suicide site was inaugurated. From now on, every Israeli mother and every boy and girl in Israel will know what every Palestinian child knows: If you want to put an end to your agonized lives, go to the checkpoint.

Meanwhile, at the checkpoint, the soldiers counted the latest of the who-knows-how-many people they killed, without any casualties to our forces. That’s always the main thing – no casualties to our forces. Again the knife that drops to the floor, which everyone hastens to photograph, to remove all suspicion; again the bleeding body on the road, which will immediately be inspected by a sapper to make sure it isn’t booby-trapped, again the corpse will be covered with black plastic and taken into custody, until the public security minister decides whether to return him to his family. Routine.

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Soon they’ll also tell everyone how the female soldier was saved by a miracle, a true miracle, an Independence miracle. How our forces did as they were required, calmly, professionally. It won’t be more than a tiny report in the newspapers, but a minor minister will tweet that even on our national holiday they won’t leave us alone, the terrorists. And already we’re dealing with the next one.

The joy this time was too brief and premature. The soldiers approached the body and felt shock: the dead person appeared to be Jewish. Perhaps there were telltale signs, perhaps it was the ID card in his pocket. Embarrassment. He’s not from Hizmeh, but from Pisgat Zeev. That’s how it is with electric fences. They’re effective, but blind. They’re also egalitarian. The automatic soldier shoots indiscriminately. Did anyone say apartheid? They shoot everyone, regardless of religion, race or gender.

And what is to be done with the dead person now? Will he be recognized as a victim of hostile activities? Will his family get an allowance from the Defense Ministry, the same way the Palestinians aid the families of their terrorists? Will he be counted with the fallen IDF soldiers and terror victims on the next Memorial Day? Will his name be engraved alongside the names of soldiers who fell in Israel’s wars on a plaque in the school he went to? Did he die a martyr’s death? Did he die so that we may live?