Op-Ed: While Deployed with the IDF, I'm Seeing the Harsh Reality of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict


The city of Shechem, also called Nablus, rests in a bowl-shaped valley of rolling green ridges and wadis framed by endless clear skies.

But while the scenery may be idyllic, the biblical location where Jacob’s daughter Dinah was raped and her brothers took revenge 4,000 years ago is still a hotbed of violence and strife.

Palestinian Arab terrorist infrastructure is strong in Shechem under the look-the-other-way “supervision” of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian Arab gunmen and militants frequently hole up in the historic city.

On Feb. 22, elite Israeli counterterror units surrounded key terrorist operatives affiliated with the Lion’s Den as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Resisting arrest, three of the terrorists were killed by Israeli forces. Armed gunmen throughout Shechem converged on the Israeli counterterror troops, and a firefight ensued that left 11 Palestinian Arabs dead and over 100 wounded. At least six of those killed have been confirmed to have been active terrorists.

I am part of an Israel Defense Force special forces reserve battalion. We were stationed elsewhere in the Judea and Samaria region (also known as the West Bank). Nearby Palestinian villages erupted with riots and violence.

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Our company received a mission to locate a terrorist and search his home for illegal weapons. We conducted the mission amid a flurry of rioting and rock-hurling, and did in fact locate both the terrorist and his illegal firearm.

In this area of Judea and Samaria, Jewish communities exist practically side by side with Palestinian Arab population centers — and the latter group isn’t always very neighborly, to put it nicely.

One observation that has really come to the forefront of my mind during this particular military deployment is this: The status quo of the Israeli-Palestinian situation is simply not sustainable.

For over five decades, the Israeli government has been trying to maintain a policy of partial control over an area of land that — contrary to popular misconception — is historically Jewish and has drifted into a de facto no man’s land of sorts. While some falsely accuse Israel of being an “occupier,” this is a huge misnomer historically, factually and legally.

Do you think Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank?

Historically, the land is Jewish.

In fact, the Palestinian Arabs living in these areas usually don’t even bother changing the names of the towns and cities they live in. Many Americans are shocked to hear Palestinian Arabs try to explain that they live in Bethlehem, for instance, and that this town has supposedly never been Jewish land. Rather, the ancient town where King David was born and raised has ostensibly been a Muslim Arab community since, well, forever, according to the propaganda of Palestinian leadership.

Factually, there has never been a kingdom or nation called “Palestine” in existence anywhere, least of all in the ancestral Jewish homeland.

In fact, the term “Palestine” comes from a Latin rendering of “Philistia,” the land of the Mediterranean sea people made famous by biblical accounts such as the slaying of Goliath by a young David. Out of spite after the Jewish revolts, the Romans renamed the land of Israel “Palestina” after the arch-enemies of the early Jewish people.

Then there is the legal fiction of the supposed “occupation.”

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According to international law, it is illegal to occupy another nation’s land. But here is the complication: If Palestine has never been an independent Arab kingdom or nation, and if the land in question was under the control of the Ottoman Turkish and British empires and then abandoned, and the Israeli government took control of the areas during a series of wars (that the Arab nations in the region started in an attempt to launch yet another genocide against the Jewish people a few short years after the Nazi Holocaust), then whose land, exactly, is being occupied?

The reality on the ground is that living in these disputed territories are over 2.5 million Palestinian Arabs and almost 700,000 Jews. In many cases, these two incompatible groups practically live on top of each other, and their populations are simply too large and established to hope that either side will just go away (as is often suggested by the international community about the Jewish presence).

Palestinian Arab terrorists conduct one murderous attack after another on Israelis — both military personnel and civilians — including drive-by shootings, car rammings, stabbings, planting explosives, etc.

The response of the Israeli government has been a difficult (and expensive) policing operation for more than half a century. Unbeknownst to most, the Israeli government has offered the Palestinian Arab leadership some form of autonomous statehood at least four times — and all four offers were rejected. And so the Israeli government maintains the unmaintainable status quo.

An unprecedented political powerhouse agrees with me that this status quo cannot be maintained — former President Donald Trump.

The Trump “Peace to Prosperity” plan has often been lambasted by Trump’s political opponents ranging from Democratic politicians to the legacy media as a supposed fool’s errand and abysmal failure (like pretty much every other great idea and major success of the former president). In reality, the peace plan was nothing short of brilliant. Perhaps most importantly, while the plan wasn’t perfect, it mirrored in many ways the biblical principles that have always guided the Jewish settlement and residence in the historical land of Israel.

All previous “peace plans” had been little more than broad statements of misplaced ideology, essentially telling the Israelis to give the Palestinian Arab leadership (who are often affiliated with or at least tolerant of violent terrorist organizations) more land and more control without any conditions. And then the Israelis must hope that the Palestinian Arabs will respond positively to this nice gesture and stop trying to kill as many Jews as possible.

In other words, Israeli Jews must buy the right to live in safety by making ourselves even more vulnerable to genocidal terrorists and giving away ancestral Jewish land.

The Trump peace plan was very different than its predecessors. Instead of the aforementioned nonsensical approach, Trump and his advisers outlined a map to Palestinian Arab autonomy that would require them to earn their statehood by a complete demilitarization of their terror cells, a permanent acknowledgment that the Jewish state in the land of Israel can and will exist, and a longstanding commitment to allow us to live in peace.

Not only did the Palestinian Arab leadership vehemently reject this plan, but so did the Democratic political leadership. And, following suit, the Biden administration has not only abandoned the Trump peace plan, but it has gone even further and restored American aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Besides the fact that both Palestinian and American political pundits corruptly line their pockets with the money flowing back and forth in the form of economic aid, the simple fact of the matter is that both Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were poised to bring a historic level of peace and prosperity to the region.

And there was no way that the Democratic political machine — including Biden, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their “deep state” funders and puppet masters — would ever allow their foes to achieve such an unprecedented level of success.

And so the senseless conflict rages on while the Democrats slanderously decry Netanyahu and Trump. And people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — many of them civilians — continue to needlessly lose their lives.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Ben Kerido is an American-Israeli special forces operator and former U.S. Department of Defense contractor focusing on psychological warfare training and now serving in the Israel Defense Force reserves. He and his wife Sarai live in Jerusalem and are writers for Intrepid Tower Publishing and hosts of the "From Israel with Love" podcast. They are also the authors of five books, including "The American Holocaust: Early Tomorrow Morning," an Orwell-style thriller and satirical parody of the American and Middle Eastern political and military arenas.