A female squad commander serving in the Israel Border Police in Hebron shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian who had aimed a gun at one of the men under her command Wednesday evening. Only later, it was learned the gun the youth was brandishing – though made out of metal – was fake.
Palestinians started circulating her photo on social media, some demanding she be brought to trial while others threatened her life.
One of the messages said: “There’s no escaping death.” Another said: “You’re going down.”
One Arabic Facebook page posted her photo with the caption: “Wanted for international justice — we demand that this murderer be tried at The Hague Court.”
Commander of the Israeli Border Guard Maj. Gen. Amos Yaakov is praising her actions since he says the handgun looked real.
Because of the threats being made against her, Israeli authorities have placed a gag order on publishing the 19-year-old squad commander’s name or her photo. She told Yediot Aharonot (TheBlaze translation):
“I didn’t have time to think…adrenaline was burning in my body. You have less than a second to understand the situation: either you do something or your fighter is hurt.”
The Times of Israel conveys more of the story from her perspective:
“With one hand … he grabbed the soldier’s neck and pressed against him, and with the other he put the pistol to the soldier’s temple. In that situation, the soldier couldn’t break free or react.” […]
“I was looking for an angle from which to fire without hurting the soldier,” she said, and it was only after she ascertained that his life was in danger that she pulled the trigger.
“After the first shot, he continued to hold the pistol to the soldier’s temple, so I fired two more bullets,” she said, at which point the Palestinian fell to the ground, and she quickly kicked the gun away.
“It was my first time in a combat situation,” she said, explaining that she had reacted “exactly like I was taught.”
With a gun being held to the soldier’s head, there was no way she could fire a warning shot, the officer said. “My subordinate’s life was in immediate danger,” and it was important to fire without hitting him, she said.
The incident occurred near Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs, a location holy to both Jews – who believe Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their wives are buried there – and to Palestinians.
After the incident, riots erupted, as Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at troops. Clashed continued into Thursday, and the IDF is on high alert in Hebron.
Hebron locals identified the dead Palestinian as 17-year-old Muhammad Ziad Awad Salaymah.