Rina Ben-Shabbat, the daughter of Rabbi Dan Mertzbach who was accidentally shot and killed by an IDF soldier, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Sunday about the difficult emotions her family is struggling with in light of the trial of a soldier who shot a wounded terrorist last Thursday.
Ben-Shabbat decided to step forward in light of the incident, pointing out the stark differences in the conduct of the state as compared to when her father was shot dead in 2011 in the south Hevron area. She condemned the IDF brass for arresting the soldier in Hevron for shooting a terrorist minutes after the latter stabbed a soldier, as compared to the silence over her father's killing.
"When on Friday we saw a handcuffed soldier accused of murder after he killed a terrorist, the difficult feelings we had as a family after the killing of my father z''l rose up again in a very extreme manner," she told Arutz Sheva.
She noted that her family chose not to fight to have criminal proceedings leveled against the soldier who accidentally killed her father, even though the dilemma still haunts them, because they did not want to weaken the IDF combat soldiers in their mission to defend the country.
Ben-Shabbat highlighted that in the case of her father, "when a Jew from Har Hevron is killed by an IDF soldier the senior echelon knew that because it was a time of war we don't weaken combat soldiers and we should in no way start criminal proceedings against a soldier."
"But to see that in contrast, in order to look good for the whole world a soldier who killed a terrorist – and it doesn't matter if he made a command mistake or not – to take him handcuffed and to accuse him of something as serious as murder is just unbearable for us."
When asked why there was such a backlash against the soldier among the political echelon, she said "someone in our leadership kind of lost their morals. When a Jew was killed like this it was very convenient to stay silent, because we love the leadership and love the IDF. But when a similar incident happens to a terrorist, and they need to excuse it for the world, then suddenly everyone can come out with vocal condemnations and accusations of murder – this is very serious."
"There is a very serious leadership failure here that someone needs to be held accountable for, it's just unbearable anymore."
"An accounting must be made"
In response to the incident, Ben-Shabbat decided to write a post on her Facebook page explaining her situation and how the decision to take action against the soldier has raised strong feelings of injustice among her family.
She explained that her post has garnered a lot of responses by people who identify with her family's pain.
"On behalf of my family I really am thankful for all the supportive comments, but it isn't enough for us, because someone up high needs to give an accounting for the moral injustice committed here. They have to give an accounting, and we won't be silent until we see it happen completely."
In response to those who would claim that if soldiers are allowed to open fire in such situations as the one in Hevron last week there would be anarchy, she said, "I think they still haven't really checked what happened there."
"None of us currently can truly know and judge what happened there, certainly not based on responses given within mere minutes (of the event) from the entire political echelon of the state. Things hadn't yet been checked or clarified."
Ben-Shabbat emphasized that "no one wants anarchy here and there isn't anarchy, but it's also the case that Jews are murdered every day, every day. Try to place the emphasis there." She added that an internal investigation in the army would have sufficed in the Hevron incident, and it did not need to receive publicity.
When asked about how she would respond to those who say her complaints are a private family matter, she said, "I think our pain is not just the pain of a family. Not at all, despite the heavy price we paid, there is a national tragedy here on the moral level, that the entire political echelon reached such a state of lowliness, that's a national tragedy. It isn't at all a personal or family matter, even though we are here to say things out loud."