May 24, 2024
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BBC Reporter Is More Than Mistaken

By Dan Rozett

Dan Rozett, Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey’s Director of Community Relations and Israel Engagement—and retired First Sergeant of the Israel Defense Force—responds to a BBC reporter’s false accusation that Israeli Forces are happy to kill children.*

As a Jewish community representative, I must separate my professional views from my personal views (which don’t always align). But not today.

Today, I am not only writing as Jewish Federation’s Director of Community Relations and Israel Engagement, but as retired First Sergeant Dan Rozett of the Israel Defense Force.

This is a personal message, one that is difficult to write, but necessary to defend my honor and that of IDF soldiers who work tirelessly to defend the State of Israel, sometimes under immense pressure and fear that only those who experienced combat can understand.

War is ugly and tragic, yet it is under these conditions that IDF soldiers take every measure possible to avoid civilian casualties, sometimes at the risk of their own lives, because they value life.

I know, personally, that Israeli soldiers do not enjoy killing or harming children (or anyone). While on active duty, I found myself in that position.

In 1996 I was deployed to the Western Sector of what was then the Israeli Security Zone in Southern Lebanon, a 15-mile-wide belt of land from the sea to the Golan Heights where the IDF attempted to keep Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists away from the Israeli border.

My platoon was in enemy territory providing security for a maintenance crew from the Armored Corp trying to dig out a tank that was stuck in the mud and was broken down. Manning a roadblock, I was positioned in front of the main force signaling Lebanese drivers with a flashlight to stop for inspection.

A car approached, but instead of slowing down it began to speed up. Not only was the car increasing in speed, but it also began to turn toward me. My initial thought was this was either a ramming attack or a car bomb, so I opened fire, hitting the engine and windshield 11 times (yes, I remember) until the car stopped about 50 feet in front of me.

Expecting an explosion or firefight, I dove into a ditch and took up a firing position. Just like in the movies, I blocked out all surrounding noise, focused and ready to engage the enemy. The next sound I heard was not gunfire, rather a child screaming out for his father, immediately followed by the driver screaming in English, not to shoot.

I ran with my lieutenant to the car while the rest of the platoon secured the area and found two children lightly injured from glass and metal fragments. The child in the front passenger seat was not wearing a seatbelt and was lying where his feet should have been, had he been sitting up. This ironically saved his life, since one of my bullets pierced the windshield, went right through the seat where his head would have been, through the rear seat and out the trunk. Luckily, the other child was sitting behind the driver, avoiding getting hit by that same bullet.

About 15 seconds passed from the moment I noticed the car to when I opened fire—that’s how long I had to decide what to do.

I did not kill any children, but I am haunted to this day by the fact that I almost did. Every so often something I see, hear, or smell triggers a memory, causing me to relive that night.

To Anjana Gadgil from the BBC: Although I did the right thing, and to this day I have no idea why the driver didn’t stop, I took no pleasure in any part of that incident. I am traumatized and can only imagine what would have been if those children were killed.

You don’t know me or soldiers of the IDF, and the fact that you think we are “happy to kill children” is a blood libel.

I am the IDF soldier—an imperfect, good person, compassionate, who loves life and wishes for peace, and not the bloodthirsty killer you made me and my brothers and sisters in the IDF out to be.

*Anjana Gadgil from the BBC maliciously stated in a July 4, 2023, interview with Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, that Israeli Forces are happy to kill children.

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