Thursday, September 03, 2009

Myth Busters I

During August's reserve stint, two soldiers and I were talking about our frustration with successive Israeli governments and their handling of kidnapped or injured soldiers. As we were around the Nablus area, the October 2000 incident at Joseph's Tomb came up. During fierce fighting after an attack on the Border Police contingent at Jopseh's Tomb, a few soldiers sustained injuries. With Palestinian security forces preventing any 'non-forceful' Israeli incursion (As per Oslo Accords), Ehud Barak wavered. No rescue mission was sent in order to avoid further escalation and civilian casaulties. Five hours later, Madhat Yusuf died due to heavy blood loss - He was the only soldier to die defending Joseph's Tomb that day.

The Myth:

"If it was a Jewish soldier and not Madhat Yusuf, a Druze soldier, bleeding to death in Joseph's Tomb in 2000, the Israeli Army would have sent in troops to rescue him"

The Truth:

The myth above is what Walid, a Druze from the same village as Yusuf, claimed was the reason our forces didn't enter Joseph's Tomb for the necessary rescue mission. To be honest, it's something that always crossed my mind - did the fact that Yusuf was Druze play any part in our government's decision?

Eyal, the third participant in this conversation, quickly interjected as we discussed this myth, "That's just not true. I was with the Border Police then and I remember watching it while on base. Yusuf was not the only person injured there. There were two other soldiers who were in a bad way." Walid looked on as Eyal continued, "The boys in the Border Police units who were waiting to enter the Tomb and rescue the soldiers couldn't care less what religion the injured were. They just wanted to rescue their friends. The government just wasted time, and in the end, made a pathetic, disgraceful and disastrous decision."

Fact is, Eyal was right. Yusuf is the only soldier one 'knows' from this event because he was tragically the only one to die. The other soldiers injured in the fire fights with Palestinian security forces that day are seemingly not mentioned because they luckily survived. Yusuf's death was a tragedy that should have been prevented - but it was more due to an inept and cowardly government, than a racist one.

Madhat Yusuf, may his memory be blessed

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