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Times Of Israel
Times Of Israel
24 Feb 2024

NextImg:Reservist who shot terrorist: Don’t use me to promote ‘divisive discourse,’ gun policy

An Israel Defense Forces reservist who was wounded in an exchange of fire with terrorists near a West Bank checkpoint has made an impassioned plea that his case not be used as a tool to promote “divisive or aggressive” discourse or relaxed gun policies

Hananya Ben Shimon, 23, shot dead one of the three terrorists who attacked motorists sitting in traffic between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement city of Ma’ale Adumim on Thursday, and was himself moderately injured in the exchange of fire. One person was killed and 11 others wounded.

On Friday, Ben Shimon spoke out against comments by lawmakers and posts on social media that used his “so-called act of heroism” to push the policy of arming as many civilians as possible for a quick response to terror incidents.

“I have no argument as to the importance of my weapon — my life was saved because of it — but before we go waving it around, the politicians also need to find a better solution, because a gun is a Band-Aid and can’t be the solution, certainly not in death traps like these traffic jams,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

At the time of the attack, Ben Shimon was on his way to work as a tour group guard and was armed with a pistol from the security company.

His comments alluded to a statement made by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of the terror attack, in which the far-right minister said that a large disaster was averted due to armed police and civilians, and claimed that “everyone understands that guns save lives.”

Police at the scene of a terror shooting attack on Route 1 near Ma’ale Adumim, in the West Bank, February 22, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

In a series of tweets, Ben Shimon noted that he was gay and bemoaned the irony of right-wing ministers using the case of a man whose rights they “throw aside” as a “hero” to promote their own “ideological interests.”

Before becoming a minister, Ben Gvir actively took part in protests against the Jerusalem Pride Parade. A number of senior members of the government have made anti-LGBTQ comments, and promoted polices that could harm the community’s rights.

“I am indeed gay, and as such denied basic rights at times, and I have plenty to say and serious disagreements on some key issues in life, even with my parents, not to mention certain elected officials,” Ben Shimon wrote.

“Nevertheless, I always try to conduct these discussions and debates in a respectful manner without making it personal, and I ask for the same courtesy when my name is being used,” he wrote.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir at the scene of a deadly terror attack on Route 1 near Ma’ale Adumim, in the West Bank, February 22, 2024 (Jamal Awad/Flash90).

The posts were viewed by tens of thousands of people within hours of posting, and drew reactions from across the political spectrum.

Otzma Yehudit MK Almog Cohen thanked him for “saving lives” and joined Labor MK Naama Lazimi in wishing him a full recovery, while Yesh Atid MK Idan Roll wrote, “Not so-called heroism, but real heroism — and also a personal example of how a complex discussion should be conducted.”

Ben Shimon was sitting in a car with his mother when the attackers began shooting with automatic weapons at the traffic jam. He opened fire after seeing one of the terrorists start shooting.

The reservist, who returned from the Gaza Strip three weeks ago after serving as a tank crew member for three months in Israel’s war against Hamas, also shared on Friday that his condition was improving.

“Today I’ll be able to put some weight on my leg, your prayers are being answered,” he wrote.

War erupted in Gaza after the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacres, which saw thousands of terrorists kill some 1,200 people, and kidnap over 250, mostly civilians, amid horrific atrocities including widespread gang rape, torture and mutilation.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and free the hostages. The fighting has seen Israel call up large numbers of reservists, many of whom have spent months in combat.